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Pablo Bronstein Review

Catherine May visits the ICA to see what all the fuss is about

Written by . Published on June 16th 2011.

Pablo Bronstein Review

Pablo Bronstein’s latest exhibition, Sketches for Regency Living, at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is heavily influenced by architecture. The Goldsmiths’ graduate has been fascinated by Georgian architecture since the ’80s and explores this interest through a wide range of media.

Taking over the entire ICA building, Nash House, Bronstein’s work has all been produced in the past three years, with most pieces created only this year. The lower gallery houses ‘Tragic Stage’, a twice daily performance piece featuring dancers moving theatrically in front of a large Georgian forecourt. With emerging fashion designer Mary Katrantzou having designed the dancers’ costumers the performance is almost poetic, if not a little ominous at the same time.

Similar themes are evident in ‘Walker’, a film to be shown in the theatre throughout the exhibition’s residency. A dancer performs in front of a regency building echoing the sentiment of the lower gallery’s work, allowing visitors to compare the two pieces.

With emerging fashion designer Mary Katrantzou having designed the dancers’ costumers the performance is almost poetic, if not a little ominous at the same time.

Adorning the foyer’s wall is ‘Large Building with Column’. The self-explanatory name leaves little to the imagination, with Bronstein expertly combining architecture and art in this 2D sketch.

There’s minimal colour throughout the exhibition. The dancers’ costumes offer a slight splash of colour, with the upper gallery’s ‘Relocation of Temple Bar’ and ‘Erection of Paternoster Square Column’ being enhanced with a smattering of colour.

Large Cabinet/OfficeLarge Cabinet/OfficeAlso in the upper gallery are two furniture pieces. ‘Large Cabinet/Office’ sits in Room 1 with a multitude of drawers and doors leading to practical storage space with a table that unfolds to create an office. It’s an elaborate piece with the green desk complimenting the dark brown wood of the cabinet. Over in Room 2, ‘Pair of Consoles/Campaign Bed’ shows Bronstein’s love of the Georgian period once more with the two consoles being wheeled together to form a bed typical of the time.

It is perhaps ‘Designs for the Ornamentation of Middle Class Houses’ that is the most impactful. A series of 66 drawings lining the gallery’s stairwell, each depicts a house seemingly void of personality. Many houses look similar, with an art deco influence more prevalent as you journey further up the stairs, but each image uses creams and greys, with the occasional streak of colour, to show a different regency style house. The lack of colour suggests a lack of emotion in the houses, seemingly creating a statement about these middle class houses.

Designs for the Ornamentation of Middle Class HousesDesigns for the Ornamentation of Middle Class HousesAlongside the opening of ‘Sketches for Regency Living’, the ICA is also celebrating the launch of a new workshop space. Having previously seen work from Pablo Picasso and Damien Hirst pass through its doors, the ICA studio has been redesigned by 6a Architects to create the new public space. The studio itself has white walls, the same as the main gallery, but the corridor between the two is covered in paint splashes creating the sense that this truly is an artistic space. The room will not only be used by artists to produce work, but also for public talks and meetings making it a really multipurpose creative space in central London.

Pablo Bronstein: Sketches for Regency Living runs at the ICA from 9 June to 25 September. To coincide with the exhibition, the gallery will be running a series of events including intimate tours and evenings of retrospective dance works choreographed by Bronstein.

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