Friday, 19 October 2012


Antidote Magazine - The Animal Issue
Daphne Groeneveld. 


Graduating from Central St. Martins, Polish artist, Jan Manski has been progressively sculpting a neo-dystopian amalgam since his graduation. This process has culminated in “Onania” a deeply evocative series of sculptures and instruments alluding to a social torrent of turmoil. In this world, mythologies and social norms have become all consuming, temerarious and explicitly over-indulged to the point of ego-depletion. 

Aetiology Unknown 24 - 2012

The divergence of synthetic and natural materials illuminate the superficiality which embodies the distorted, tortured breeding ground of this biosphere. Consumer culture and rabid fascination of the obsolete has spurned a self-destructive and ugly self-obsession. Illustrative of these ritualistic reforms are his use of materials, including abandoned fat sourced from liposuction clinics. In this very indicative world, grotty slimy tentacles splurge and writhe across a mannequin’s jaw, like a fleshy fossil that is planted atop a glossy torso and glamourous fur stole. These hybrid-swollen masses, which appear borne out of some guttural Promethean-abyss, are made even more provocative via their association to the mirror, the clinic our aesthetic addiction. Inspired by both the medieval and renaissance paintings of Bosch and Brueghel as well as the mainstream, fashion and consumer culture, Manski brings these sculptures to a pinnacle of sensationalism. This medieval, underworld dimension is balanced with our present-day modernity and a future age of dystopian mystery.

Aetiology Unknown 03 - 2010

Sickly pink. That colour which is neither bright nor pallid, sweetness with a melancholic, almost bucolic tinge slicks the equipment at Onania. This candyfloss greasy shade is an apt opposition to the molten, mouldy texture of these hideous sprouting sci-fi demons. Narcissism flirts with brutal prissiness to inflame a rich debate about the consumer culture that appears grotesque in Onania’s hallucinatory state of sterilized happiness. Inevitably, Manski employs a balance between the veneer of control and pleasure to the depths of vulnerability and sedimentary hollowness. Boundless, often destructive pleasure underscores the whole essence of Manski’s Onania, which calls into question our culture and values in very direct symbols. For example, “Aetiology Unknown 24” is an alien combination of mannequin and creature entombed in a glass vitrine. However, the harrowing is in the detail. The face ridden thick in a fatty celluloid substance curves outwards to form a protruding jaw but the unnerving detail lies in the pearlescent pink stud on the earlobe. Tiny and discreet yet encumbered with striking ambivalence.    

Aetiology Unknown 32 - 2012

Elements of Francis Bacon come to mind with its encased delicate horror. This too, made more startling via Manski’s use of fur, leather and normal clothing fabrics alongside polyvinyl acetate, fat and curving jaws. We have entered a world of colossal ingenuity in a deceptively refined state. Welcome to the Manski milieu. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Guido Mocafico's images steer the viewer into a systematic and specifically engineered perspective. Built as an alloy of the sharp, the arcane and the sterile, Mocafico's works appear hyperreal in his unflinching focus of real detail. Take the fluffed tarantulas in his "Aranea" series, the robust acuteness releases a hypnotic abstraction. These natural forms become 3D Rorschach inkblots unfurling with unusual asymmetry. With tendons leeching outwards like barbed wire or electric cables, these familiar shapes and wholly natural simplicity begin to export a far more reactive illusion. However, it is not all miracles of nature. Mocafico's imagery is shaded with clues.

Avicularia Aurantiaca - Aranea

For example, painterly characteristics are manifested in "Stilleven". The indistinguishable facet of these still-life ensure a decisive traction between the photographic image and the painted canvas. Understandably, as Mocafico - having studied Dutch and German still-life of the seventeenth and eighteenth century- rendered the fine details from paintings by Floris van Dijck and Pieter Claesz with exacting precision, bringing a new spirit to these antique paintings. A carbon copy of a golden age. Through this reassembling, Mocafico acknowledges antediluvian practices and contorts them with the lightest touch. The reminiscence of spirit in these images is countered with wavering verisimilitude.

Vanitas - Stilleven

With this ambivalence between truth and falsity lay claim to an altogether elusive correctness that embodies much of Mocafico's work. From jellyfish that float like sparkling melancholic bacterium, guns which sit doe-eyed and stiff like anarchic apparatus from some ancient regime to watch faces which seem like satellite images of a sic-fi metropolis, the abstract is installed into the everyday.  What we see is so obvious, so rigorously pedalled to our reception with its vitrine-like confinement, the simplicity on show can appear indefinable. Collaborating with magazines such as Self-Service, Wallpaper and Paradis, Mocafico has tempted the world of fashion. Maybe it's no sin to be tempted by his serpents either.

Rhizastoma - Medusa

Saturday, 22 September 2012


The fruits of Gabriella Crespi's labours fold metallic extravagance with utilitarian innovation for the sharpest of palates. Crespi, an international designer, artist and socialite dazzled the stars with her tactile and erudite reflective forms. Born in Milan in 1922, Crespi grew up in the mellow and rural twilights of Tuscany, in such a landscape the sensual harmony of Proserpine would saturate both mind and soul. Undeniably, this languid affair with nature influenced Crespi's outlook and sculptural style. Initially studying architecture at Politecnico Instituto, this introductory foray into design would manifest itself within Crespi's hidden pockets of pragmatism.

"Yang Yin" desk/bookcase 1979
This auteur style ripened with Crespi's "The Small Lune" collection which was ignited via her emphatic absorption of the universe. These interlocking sculptural shards, some doused in copper-streaks others in a dew-cooled surface of persian marble became quixotic sculptural totems to outer galaxies. Many of Crespi's signature materials include bamboo, plexiglass, and a range of metals and stones which rotate in combinations to embellish the Crespi stratosphere, one that is peppered with an intense connection with nature and architecture.

"Ellisse" - "Cuba Tonda" - "Scultura" 1976

"Yang Yin" bar 1979
Most of Crespi's works were created during the 60s and 70s, during which her furniture designs became talismanic pieces in their own dimension. Her elegant and elaborate mechanisms embalmed an innate allure, continually associated with her designs. Quite often these rubix cube-like interventions unfurled with efficient ease to unlock inner lacquered shelving units, evident in The Yin Yang desk. 1972 saw the birth of another iconic design: "Monsieur - Madame" a shelving unit consisting of contrasting metals with deep diagonal grooves to reflect an illusory effect, which was heightened through the use of lighting. Swivelling plexiglass shards and metallic planes seamlessly overlap like the petals of an orchid. This shape-shifting luminescence in Crespi's work was undeniably thirst quenching to her panoply of collectors. The duality between the urbane, disco essence and organic, spiritual splendour became a doctrine for a soporifically sensual era. Organic mysticism was ever present, non more so than in her animal sculptures: life-size bronze deer, elegant herons and an ostrich stood like an obelisk with a real ostrich egg cradled as part of the anatomy. By blending the urban and the natural, the mind and the spirit Crepsi cross-pollinated realms to form exact and elegant design, how to have the astronomic in your living room.

"A Kumquat for John Keats" by Tony Harrison 1981
"A Kumquat for John Keats" by Tony Harrison 1981