Over the Influence
Over The Influence is delighted to present Flat Mates, a landmark solo exhibition of Ron Arad in Hong Kong, celebrating one of the most influential conceptual designer, architect, and artist of our time. The show presents a collection of 34 flattened bottle rack sculptures, a body of work that pays tribute to legendary artist Marcel Duchamp, the 20th century pioneer of conceptual art, whilst subverting the art historical preconceptions of the readymade and high art. The exhibition runs from 21 September to 18 October 2017 at Over The Influence.
Renowned for his experimentation with the boundaries and possibilities of materials and forms, Ron Arad has been at the forefront of contemporary design and architecture globally. He first received critical recognition in 1981 with the discovery of a Rover in a junkyard, leading to the first edition of his iconic Rover Chair, fabricated by combining the seat from the Rover with elements of the Kee-Klamp scaffolding system. The Rover Chair was presented as a design object with little alteration from its previous form, elevating a found object into readymade artwork. Likewise, in 2013, Arad squashed six Fiat 500 vehicles using a shipyard press in the Netherlands and romantically titled the series Press Flowers, which were later exhibited at the Design Museum Holon in Israel.
The term “readymade” was first used by French artist Marcel Duchamp to describe the works of art he made from manufactured objects. In 1914, Duchamp bought, titled, and signed a bottle rack made from galvanized iron at the department store Bazar de l’hotel de Ville (BHV) in Paris. This work, titled Porte Bouteilles (Bottle Rack), is often considered as one of the first readymade artworks. A long-time champion of Duchamp, Ron Arad’s practice has closely referenced and evolved from the Duchampian method of appropriating found objects, radically applying the surrealist concept to industrial design.
Inspired by Porte Bouteilles, Arad’s latest show at Over The Influence showcases the same poetic reinterpretations and reconceptions of the readymade. Flat Mates originates from the same source as Duchamp’s 1914 piece, but with additional modification used for the Fiat 500’s – flattened by crushing pressure of a shipyard press – thereby subverting the concept of the readymade itself. While Duchamp removed the utility of a found object by placing it in a fine art context, Arad instead takes objects considered to be irrelevant and immortalizes their original forms from an iconoclastic perspective, bringing out new life as art.