LEARNING CURVE: Faye Toogood Explores Truth and Knowing in Her New Exhibition
For her second solo show at Friedman Benda, the British artist and designer Faye Toogood created over 20 pieces inspired by miniature maquettes she then mimicked in life-size form. The exhibition, entitled Assemblage 6: Unlearning explores what constitutes finished work and to what degree assumptions and experience contribute to “knowing.” Through furniture that looks as if it were made of masking tape, cardboard, wire, and clay, Toogood reveals the usually private preparatory stages that constitute making. Most of these materials would not be conducive to functional, full-bodied furniture, so the viewer is left wondering if they aren’t what they seem to be, what are they?
The exhibition signals a sharp departure from Toogood’s previous work, which though playful in nature, never so directly embraced the unfinished. Originally located in the world of fashion, Toogood’s practice has over the years expanded to include sculpture, furniture, objects, and interiors. Unlearning is a reflection on what Toogood has come to understand as true, and the notions of truth and perception are challenged in the trompe l’oeil finishings on the bulk of the work on display. The look of the miniature maquettes (pictured in a publication paired with the show) made from canvas, wire, paper, tape, clay, and cardboard, is approximated on the larger pieces, but using very different materials.
For Maquette 247 / Parcel Tape Console, Toogood aped cardboard and tape using cast aluminum and acrylic paint — 63 inches long, the piece looks strangely naive at this size. Other works, like Maquette 270 / Wire & Card Chair, use Zinc-coated steel and cast aluminum to mimic wire and paper. Comfort is a quiet consideration — Maquette 234 / Canvas and Foam Sofa in Rust, is the largest piece in the show and looks anything but welcoming, but is cushy to the touch. The most memorable spectre, Maquette 267 / Canvas Chair is ghostly in the most literal sense. Painted aluminum was cast to look like draped canvas, recalling the forgotten chairs in abandoned country homes.
With Unlearning Toogood stays true to her experimental ethos, asking the visitor to cast off expectations, question what they know, and consider the process of undoing as integral to understanding.
Text by Camille Okhio.
Images courtesy of Friedman Benda and Faye Toogood.