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Review: ‘Paris can stay in bed’ by Simon Le Ruez

Written by Arts, Exhibitions

Entering the exhibition room at the Vane gallery, I slid past seemingly sporadically-placed, glass sculptures on the studio floor, that appeared to me as enlarged, multi-coloured ‘liquorice allsorts’.

Four sculptures were displayed in the first room, each made-up of delicately blown glass in nostalgically bright colours, balanced somewhat precariously on top of tall coloured blocks and marble slabs. Although they may sound good enough to eat, the viewer is immediately drawn in to study these fragile, complex structures.

The exhibition ‘Paris can stay in bed’ is Sheffield and Berlin-based artist Simon Le Ruez’s fourth solo exposition at The Vane, and it is instantly obvious that he is perfectly familiar with the space. Though his sculptures may feel random when you’re trying to carefully criss-cross around them, upon taking a closer look (and one glass of red wine down) I could see that everything was meticulously arranged. Not only did the separate pieces reference one another, but the carefully positioned lighting bounced off the reflective surfaces of the glass and marble, creating specific shapes and images.

Le Ruez’s starting point of reference was Leo Carax’s 1991 film Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (‘The Lovers on the Bridge’), and his collection touches upon its themes of fragility, abandonment, freedom and redemption. This fragility is clearly referenced through the medium of glass itself, and is also partnered by the precarious positioning of the forms balanced on the floor. In addition, many of the pieces hold small objects which could allude to characters within the film.

Image: Sophie Schneider

Each piece continuously pays homage to both the city of Paris (the location of the film), and the theme of bridges and their role as inter-sectional structures. Both of these reference points are present in what is arguably the most striking piece: Between Brooklyn and the Bronx (2019). This particular sculpture looms over the room like a large apartment block. Made up of wooden panels, painted pastel pink and with two wooden disks fixed on top, it has the manner of a cake stand. The block hosts a collection of objects, which could be interpreted as characters or inhabitants. The painstaking positioning of the light above this form throws a shadow alongside the sculpture. For me, this shadow suggests an image of another potential block of apartments in the same homogeneous form, much like Georges-Eugène  Haussmann’s  19th century, unified urban architecture in Paris. A brooding, dark maroon and turquoise glass form sits atop the sculpture – a clear pièce de résistance – watching the scene down below.

“Although this may appear like part of a bridge – you can take it or leave it. I’m interested in what the viewer chooses to see”.

In the second, separate exhibition room, Le Ruez continued to reference the idea of bridges, such as through his piece ‘Alice’ (2019). This work depicts a block with pieces of string tenuously falling across the piece, intimating the structure of a suspension bridge. Le Ruez explains to me that he is fascinated by the material inter-sectional nature of bridges, as they create links between different parts of land. This theme plays throughout his collection; though Le Ruez is keen to stress that when it comes to his work, he is open to all interpretations: “Although this may appear like part of a bridge – you can take it or leave it. I’m interested in what the viewer chooses to see”.

Paris can stay in bed’ by Simon Le Ruez is on public display on Wednesdays to Saturdays 12.00 to 17.00 pm, until 2nd November 2019, at The Vane Gallery. The exhibition is free to view.

Image: Sophie Schneider

Last modified: 11th October 2019

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