Until March 9, R & Company presents Breaking the Box, a solo presentation of new work by Sebastian ErraZuriz. The exhibition shows a curated selection of ErraZuriz’s newest functional sculpture that exemplifies his multifaceted practice and evolution as a contemporary artist and designer. The diverse work on view challenges the boundaries between art, design and technology while inviting the viewer to question their purpose and function.
His experimental approach to this new series is seen through the varying materials and stylistic methods he employs. Unified together thematically through their ongoing exploration of nature, humor, life and death, ErraZuriz encourages viewers to engage and discover the new works in the exhibition. He states, “We tend to understand reality by constraining meaning into closed and simplified boxes defined by previous cultural conventions. We live within these pre-established cognitive borders, where we only tend to see, recognize and accept as true, that which has been previously ordered and defined. In Breaking the Box I use art, design and craft to break open our relationship to objects, function, beauty and time in order to reconsider conventions.”
The top floor of the gallery is devoted to presenting functional pieces including newly developed designs from ErraZuriz’s Mechanical Cabinet series. Utilizing the highest level of traditional woodworking, each piece is crafted with technical precision that allows for their unique form to transform. These modular credenzas, cabinets and boxes at first glance appear simplistically elegant but they each possess a surprising element. Functioning in a similar mode to a fan, when opened the interactive works can rotate, spin, and take new shapes, colors and forms.
Merging both advanced technology and traditional craft, this versatile series allow for various interpretations that test the limits between sculpture and function. ErraZuriz states “The mechanical cabinet series is part of an ongoing exercise to develop methodical and structured systems that are outside of the box. This aviary series embodies the daily reminder of the fragility of time and the need to also think freely and intuitively.”
Breaking the Box also debuts newly developed pieces from ErraZuriz’s Metamorphosis series. Drawing inspiration from the Chilean landscape where the artist was born, the series investigates the dichotomy between nature and adaptation. On view is a wooden carved bench and table that are each composed of an organic tree form base.
The new works continue the ongoing series of tree pieces questioning the history and meaning of wood made furniture. ErraZuriz developed three main series using different techniques from innovative 7 axis CNC robots carving or high-end hand carving to real trunk and branches repurposing. The two pieces from the Metamorphosis series presented here are simultaneously simple and complex with clear references to their history and materiality.
Another central focus of the exhibition is a monumental Bird Chandelier installed in the dramatic 40 foot atrium gallery space. Developed specifically for the exhibition, the illuminated sculpture cascades down three stories, activating the entire gallery. The whimsical chandelier consists of a hundred vibrant taxidermy birds that are harmoniously perched and flying in and out of the crystal structure. Drawing visual parallels to a nest, the piece resembles a moment frozen in time. The birds are motionless yet appear energetic bringing to question both life and death.
Breaking the Box is on view from now to 9 March at R & Company’s 64 White Street location and runs concurrently with the exhibition Bend it Like Breuer.