For her second exhibition with Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Isabelle Cornaro presents a selection of recent works that stage the multiple fractures in our cognitive relationship to objects. With a precise visual syntax, Cornaro uses strategies of translation, abstraction, and composition to generate formal and conceptual contradictions to reactivate our sense of perception. Here, the anthropomorphic convenes with the abstruse pinpointing the way meaning is formed through objects and how objects become extensions of self symbolizing class and taste.
At the focal point of the exhibition, Cornaro has installed a large-scale composition of stands and display elements, interspersed with an array of found objects and cylindrical rolls of velvet fabric. Reminiscent of a classical landscape painting translated into volumes, planes, and perspective markers, the work reveals itself as a static “tableau,” an abstraction of reality, which fragments away as the viewer’s movements through the installation breaks the spatial organization. The objects within the installation are either ornamental or symbolic, eliciting a narrative of fetishism and exchange value that reverberates throughout all the works in the exhibition.
Adjacent to the installation are examples from a series of solid rubber wall-based castings that recall the chaotic structures of 16th and 17th century Mannerist grotto design. The work presents the homogenized mechanical reproduction of individual objects: rope, jewelry, fabric, currency, stone, and chains, each of which maintain its original formal texture amidst its loss of functional status. The work is rendered through a single casting process during which color is added at the point when the material is still fluid.
The title, Orgon Doors, refers both to an open textual description from Edward Kienholz’s Concept Tableaux series (God Doors) which Cornaro has come to realize in several iterations, and Wilhelm Reich’s concept of “Orgon” energy source.
A different group of works, designated by the artist as “drawings,” features bands of human hair intertwined around thin strips of painted board, whose organization stems from the tradition of landscape composition. In this construct, our experience of the material changes as its formal fragility finds a dependency upon the geometric composition that supports it. Unlike the modified process of the castings, the strands of hair are unaltered, allowing for a corporeal experience to surface from the abstract system in which it has been inserted.