press release

The South London Gallery and Spike Island, Bristol, present a two-part solo exhibition by French artist Isabelle Cornaro. The SLG hosts an existing large-scale installation while the presentation at Spike Island focuses on new and recent work.

At the South London Gallery, Cornaro presents the sixth in the series of installations entitled Paysage avec poussin et témoins oculaires started in 2008. Each of these installations is loosely based on a classical landscape painting by the 17th-century artist Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) created as three-dimensional interpretations using sets of pedestals and standing walls to display objects in meticulous arrangements. The objects are selected by Cornaro for their specific form or decoration. Grouping them by size, lines of perspective and for their light and shadow effects, she puts into question their aesthetic and cultural value. The clearly structured composition reinforces the illusion of perspective, allowing visitors to experience the work from different viewpoints whilst also being able to walk between the pedestals, encountering fragments of Cornaro’s constructed ‘landscape’.

To accompany this work in the SLG’s main space, Cornaro’s short films Figures (2011) and Premier rêve d'Oskar Fischinger (2008) will be shown in the first floor galleries.

Isabelle Cornaro works with painting, sculpture, film and installation, to explore the influence of history and culture on our perception of reality. As a trained art historian specialising in 16th-century European Mannerism, her visual language draws on a wide array of references from the Baroque to modernist abstraction. In her work Cornaro uses found objects imbued with symbolic potential or emotional value, which she presents in different types of display and media to reveal the subtle shifts of meaning provoked by processes of reproduction and translation.

Borrowed from domestic, decor­ative or functional contexts, these ­artefacts ­are often linked to Western culture ­as a means of power, their combination ­and a­rra­ngement in the a­rtist’s work inviting spect­ators to question the rela­tionships between systems of representa­tion ­and our understanding of the world.