In his recent exhibition, David Wiseman: Wilderness and Ornament, the Los Angeles-based artist and designer said he wanted to get back to making environmental installations. The porcelain and metal works on display at New York’s R & Company show Wiseman embracing the ornamental side of his design. Many of the works draw on patterns Wiseman noticed on his trips across the world. He seeks patterns that highlight this “cohesive visual language” he recognized. The show opened May 11 but it was recently extended through July 7. From the Gallery:
Wilderness and Ornament, the gallery states, is an opulent exploration of the artist’s references to nature and the influence of decorative arts history on Wiseman’s practice and his body of unique, handmade works.
In his artist statement, Wiseman writes, “As early as I can remember, I have been interested in drawing patterns — geometries that repeat to create structures, tiles and borders, as well as abstracting trees and flowers to create flourishes and symbols. I remember being completely engrossed by my grandmother’s folio of Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament, admiring the detailed color plates and amazed by the sheer variety and beauty of all the distinct patterns from different cultures, from Papuan to Viennese to Japanese — how they internalized and were inspired by the wilderness around them through patterns and ornament.”
Until the 20th century, exquisite and complex patterns and details were a ubiquitous presence in many human societies and were included in wall decorations, architectural ornaments, furniture, tableware, fashion — essentially all aspects of life, irrespective of class or geography. After the onset of Modernism, this ornamentation came to represent for many a decadent past, but, in Wiseman’s hand, it signifies an elegant and sincere attempt to delight in the sublime beauty and mystery of the natural world by incorporating it into the visual landscape of our daily lives.
The objects and architectural elements on view in Wilderness and Ornament are a culmination of Wiseman’s years of looking at the world through the lens of its patterns. His California upbringing instilled in him a passion for the blooming abundance and ephemera of the natural world’s myriad and diverse patterning. His travels and readings inform the references he borrows and the historical precedents he articulates through his cast bronze and porcelain works.
What sets Wiseman apart, though, is the way in which he edits and reworks these influences to create modern interiors that are relevant and captivating, full of detail and wonder. Wilderness and Ornament will transform the gallery space into one of his signature, full-room installations, featuring chandeliers and walls infused with decorative motifs.
Evan Snyderman, founding partner of R & Company, say that “For David Wiseman’s second solo exhibition at R & Company, the designer has taken his fascination with, and celebration of, ornament and pattern to the next level, expanding his attention to the walls and ceiling of the space, realizing his dream of the gesamtkunstwerk. The detailed patterns and textures drawn from global references inspires us to think not only about history, but also about the future of design and how he’s influencing and changing it for us all.”
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