The Contemporary Art Center of Málaga, in collaboration with the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, is presenting the first exhibition in Spain of the Swiss artist, Sylvie Fleury.
It comprises a survey of her output over the last 20 years and will allow the visitor to see some of her most important works through which she offers an ironic vision of consumer culture and the angst that prevails in contemporary society. Sculptures, murals, videos and neons constitute the key pieces in a comprehensive display of works which demonstrates that nothing is what it seems while revealing the most destructive side of present-day aspirations. The artist guides the viewer through the world of fashion, luxury and leading brand names, using the vehicle of art to criticise the superficiality of a capricious, dissatisfied world.
The prevailing angst in contemporary society, which arises from a popular culture that primarily focuses on material possessions, the cult of the body and a series of frivolous values, articulate the formal argument that underlies the work of Sylvie Fleury. While her works might initially seem to constitute an affirmation of consumer society, they in fact conceal a critical, acerbic and ironic attack on the world of beauty, luxury and fashion. Art is thus a medium for unmasking the Machiavellian nature of aspirations and for demonstrating that glamour and exclusivity are a source of disappointment and disillusionment.
This exhibition at the CAC Málaga offers a survey of Sylvie Fleury’s work from the beginning 1990s to the present. For this first exhibition of the artist in Spain a group of more than 100 works has been selected that reveals her particular interests and concerns while also emphasising the large number of different media in which she works, including video, murals, painting, sculpture and neons.
For Fernando Francés, Director of the CAC Málaga: “Sylvie Fleury’s work is a reflection of Pop culture and modern day society’s determined connivance in compulsive, even neurotic process of consumption. Behind the exclusiveness and luxury of her objects we encounter disappointment and disillusionment. It is difficult to know if the artist really worships these objects or if they are merely instruments used to satirise a society that venerates the cult of the body, beauty and material possessions. Fleury has developed a unique formal idiom that is much more complex and disconcerting than it might seem at first sight. Her works have an intrinsic value that goes beyond the mere affirmation of the brand names that are their subject, functioning to create glamorous provocation.”
Behind the promises of happiness, social status and sex that are concealed in many of the projects and brand names that the artist uses to create her works lies a grotesque and caricatural vision of the canons and prototypes involved in contemporary culture: thinness as a symbol of beauty, brand fetishism, and the insatiable desire to have more things and better ones. The result is a spiral of empty aspirations to which Fleury gives form in works such as Cristalle Custom Commando-rouge of 2008 or Miniskirts are Back of 2009.
The influences of Pop Art and Andy Warhol in Fleury’s works are evident. However, while Warhol denounced the power of the mass media and mass consumption, Fleury focuses on the social status achieved by brands names, which have become objects of desire and veneration for those consumers who attach more importance to what they represent than to their actual functional use (White Gold, 2010 and Chanel Shopping Bag, 2008).
The influences on her work, however, extend beyond Pop Art and also reveal an interest in installation and post-conceptual art derived from Olivier Mosset and John Armleder (Gold Fountain PKW of 2003), while we also encounter references to Joseph Kosuth (Motormouths, Kosuth, 1996, and Champagne et Limousines, 2010), Jeff Koons (Purple Popcorn, 2008), Jenny Holzer (Yes to All, 2009), Piet Mondrian (Mondrian Dress, 1992), Victor Vasarely (Busty Vasarely, 2008), Donald Judd (Eternal Wow on Shelves, 2008), and Marcel Duchamp and his ready-mades (Marcel et Robert, 2000 – 2010).
The exhibition is completed with a selection of 15 videos from her work in this medium, which will be projected on loop in the Centre´s Espacio 5.
In the early 1990s Sylvie Fleury (born Geneva, 1961) achieved recognition in the international contemporary art world through her work Shopping Bags, which drew attention to the mechanisms that lead us to desire specific consumer goods. Since then her work has been seen in galleries and museums world-wide (including New York, Tokyo, Germany, France and London) and is represented in the collections of major art institutions.