Bodily forms

Cathy de Monchaux, Dangerous Fragility, 1994

Cathy de Monchaux, Dangerous Fragility, 1994

One of the things that really struck me looking at Alex Van Gelder’s Meat Portraits was that they reminded me of a very different body of work: Cathy de Monchaux’s small-scale sculptures made from materials velvet, leather and metal. Searching for the works that come most immediately to mind proves tricky; images of the works I remember best from de Monchaux’s Whitechapel exhibition or from the Turner Prize show the year she was nominated prove elusive but the seductive beauty of the lush red velvet held in oddly fleshy formations by brass fittings has stayed with me.

The pale pink leather of works like Dangerous Fragility is in come ways more bodily – clearly evoking skin – but it’s the combination of the softness of the velvet and its wound like appearance that I find particularly fascinating.

Erase 1989 by Cathy De Monchaux born 1960

Erase, 1989

Either way though, de Monchaux’s use of materials is intriguing. The combination of hardware and fabric suggests a mix of aggression and vulnerability and the exquisite detail of some works carries connotations of both the intricacy of nature and biological specimens pinned for dissection.

The carry case structure of Vent, while utterly unlike anything else, somehow manages to bring Hadrian Pigott’s Instruments of Hygiene to mind; never a bad thing in my view.

Cathy de Monchaux, Vent, 1988

Vent, 1988

Researching de Monchaux’s work, I realise I haven’t seen Trolley in real life (or, possibly, have replaced it in the store of art in my head with who knows what). The work intrigues me though, in part for the Pigottiness (not an actual word, but you know what I mean) of the toolbox but also for the preposterousness of the velvet covered steps of the ladder. The mix of function and luxury is a pleasing one, and conveniently bringing another artist’s work to mind the piece gives me ideas for another post. Phew!

Cathy de Monchaux, Trolley, 1987

Trolley, 1987

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