What does define an artistic sodality? Mahal de Man and Chloe Leaper perfectly describe the nature of their influencing collaboration through the exhibition Tending to Infinity, at the Carousel’ space, London. For the first time, in their artistic career, the artists present a series of works
that have been thought through references and interferences during the process of their practices. Moreover, the exhibition functions as a retrospective looking back to the more significant phases of their artistic journeys. But, more interestingly, Tending to Infinity explores the affinities of their interests for researching the space and more widely, for the cosmic vision of the universe. By entering into dialogue with them, we are moved through the exhibited works.
The first work, The Great Divide, 2015, emphasizes this collaboration, describing a layering of unframed papers in which the two artists intertextually intersect their practices; the display, as a counterpoint through the rhythm of the images on display, advances the following collaborative pieces, Tending To Infinity, 2014 and Untitled (The Interstellar connection), 2014, which underline the ideal balance between spatial tension and a free approach to research and aesthetics of new horizons. The interest of de Man Mahal is intended to explore cosmological dimensions, motivated by the search of infinite spaces through a vision that juxtaposes science and a modern sense of the sublime; the journey to discover unexplored routes is metaphorically represented by Untitled, 2015, describing a cargo ship advancing through a stormy sea. Mahal de Man’s practice is firstly revealed in the series of drawings which suggest evocative titles, all belonging to an initial phase of her artistic experimentation: Here Men from the Planet Earth, 2014. From academic qualities and attention to detail, her artistic path art evolves in the collage technique, using mainly papers, clippings, prints, newspapers and images from old books, such as for the impressively notable work – Untitled (Kew Gardens), 2015: a view of the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens during a stellar cluster just above the Palm House, one of the most significant still existing glass Victorian architectures. The collage technique turns into a language matter: the juxtaposition of images becomes a semantic device between the conceptual and the real, as for the series Untitled (Perspective) 2014, Untitled (Space Cube) 2014, Untitled (Monolyth) 2014 and Untitled (Dark Pyramid ) 2014, where the artist mainly focuses her spatial tension. By entering in conversation with the artist, she suggests new ways of thinking space, inviting us to look beyond any window and imagine the infinite space further away from the visible and intelligible.
Similarly, Chloe Leaper, addresses the understanding of her dimensional practice; an artistic research that is extended to sculpture and installation, influenced by theories of space and the possibilities of compositions with musical staves, deconstructing the spatial composition into new geometries. The triptych 3 Spaces, 2015 emerges from fluorescent, geometric shapes and irregular, opaque surfaces, with emphasis to dramatic contrasts that underline the works’ perception. It is in this vibration that resides the strength, the energetic tension of the graphical lines: if in the first artistic phase, to which the series Space Time Slice 1,2,3, Linear Intensities and Linear Potentialities, 2014, belong, Chloe Leaper focuses on marks and on spatial vectors, in her most recent works, the artist surprisingly liberates herself from the material, moving towards pure abstraction in works like Phrase 1 and 2, and Phrase 3, 2015, to fade, almost like in a multi layered fusion, in Alignment 1,2,3, 2015. The artistic research, which considers influences from abstraction and minimalism, is articulated through the interplay of signs, space and dynamism, beyond subjective references and representation.
If clear are the influencing aspects that bring together the practices of Man de Mahal and Chloe Leaper, the exhibition Tending to Infinity has only to be considered as the first of an ongoing series of collaborations; If this show draws attention for the potentialities of space, nature and cosmos, the artists already evoke following projects, extending the discussion to sculpture and installation. We look forward to it, while the artists are continuing their practices of intertextual interventions by e-mail.