Last night, I popped into White Cube (Mason's Yard) to see the latest work of Belgian artist Kris Martin. I was met with a purity of form, both material and intellectual, that really struck a chord with me. Downstairs were a series of found prints, playfully altered, along with a sculpture installation consisting of a series of sandstone blocks, tombstone-like in form, arranged like dominos. Chilling, pure, playful, morbid. It's an installation that fires the mind, shifting accepted form into a new space.
For me, however, his Lost Wax series was truly fascinating above all else. Here too, Martin plays with accepted form and recreates it in another incantation. Here, eighteen shelves from an apiary have been cast in bronze using the lost wax technique. Intricate fragile details have been rendered immortal. It is a marvel to witness and has real weight. Considering the reality of the decline of bee population worldwide, both the title of the series as well as the monuments Martin creates strike a poignant note.
Does the work have value? On one hand it can be considered decorative and simple, but I don't believe this is fair, Martin's aesthetic is an exceeding strength, masterfully crafted; there is, additionally, a subtle yet powerful intellectual engagement with form, shifting and re-engineering it in novel ways. A show definitely worth seeing.
Images courtesy of White Cube