Lotti V Closs: In Plain Sight
26 May - 1 July 2017


- Press Release
- Issey Scott Essay

Curves, steps, slots, and a balance between organic and geometric lines work as a type of vocabulary. Suggestive and awkward, bulky attempting delicate, standing stones ignore, reach or recline between one another, competing for space and attention. Closs’ works sit between possible maquettes for monumental public sculpture and fetishized interior objects.

Closs’ limited material choice in this body of work focuses on the unique and corporeal qualities inherent in stone. Boulders chosen to amplify natural movement, and blocks are cut sharply to create graphic contours augmenting a sense of character. A playful, theatrical approach is continued from previous works, using intermingling components and elements of narrative open to be built upon by the viewer.

In Plain Sight condenses an array of influences, and is the first exhibition of new work following participation in the Las Pozas Visiting School 2016 in Mexico with the Architectural Association. Spending time exploring Mexico City’s culture, art and architecture and surrounding historical sites, the school culminated in a concrete-making workshop in the Surrealist sculpture garden Las Pozas in Xilitla. Las Pozas (“The Pools”) was the creation of English born Aristocrat and Patron of the Surrealists, Edward James and was developed and built between 1949 and 1984.

For Closs, the concrete garden of Las Pozas (which had been a destination for the artist since studying her MFA at the art school founded by James in West Sussex), reflects a fundamental essence of joy in the ridiculous, and scrambled, poetic visual information. The now ageing structures, though alien and angular, seemingly grow within the rampant jungle greenery, and the garden itself represents the impossible whims and fantasies of a situation that could not be reproduced today.

During the time spent in Mexico city, amongst sampling the abundance of ancient history, Closs also witnessed significant modernist monuments Ruta la Armistead, created for the 1968 Olympics, and the outdoor sculpture garden Espacio Escultórico (1979) in UNAM’s (Universidad Nacional Autónama de México) vast grounds. Both sites sit within a bed of ancient petrified lava and undergrowth, with the ever-expanding cityscape growing around past and beyond the originally uncrowded sites.

Working from a series of minimal sketches made on site and in the studio, imagined objects evoke alphabet characters or game pieces, potently stylized décor, and implied visual metaphor. Closs’ intuitive and material sensed approach to making allows forms to appear and evolve organically, connecting with the details of line and surface, character and the composition of sculptural parts. In the studio, each form takes turns in a constant editing, altering and extending process to influence each other’s and the group direction, finally choreographed into the public space itself and emanating their tone to the environment in which they are seen.

The substantiality of the materials echoes both the modern and ancient monumental influences whilst scale and form step into the domestic realm. Connotations of the masked or coded, In Plain Sight reflects back an imagined visual language that emerges through a saturation of potent visual and environmental information. ‍
Lotti V Closs B. 1987, Whitstable , England, lives and works in Nottingham. She studied MFA Sculpture at West Dean Collage 2014 and BA Fine Art at Nottingham Trent 2009. Closs won of the SYSON solo show and commisson award, in association with the Nottingham Castle Open in 2015, she participated in the Architectural Association Visiting School; Las Pozas 2016 in both Mexico City and Xilitla.
by Issey Scott
More than ever before, sculpture and its surrounding environments are becoming intertwined and form a narrative that is so firmly enmeshed that the viewer is almost excluded from this relationship. Some argue that sculpture can be a rather solitary medium, but as dichotomies blend together, often encompassing installation and performance for example, sculptural works are now becoming immersive and interactive.

Architecture also possesses a similar trait, especially when considered as an object of visual culture alongside the likes of sculpture. Lotti V Closs’ new body of work, ‘In Plain Sight’ demonstrates this perfectly, with her use of noble materials such as alabaster and stone. Yet this bizarre subversion of scale (from architecture to sculpture) allows the work to formulate its own narrative, afresh from architectural or art theory. In her text ‘Sculpture’, Barbara Hepworth, whose influence is evident in Closs’ work, states that “for the imaginative idea to be projected into stone, wood or any plastic substance...an understanding of its inherent quality and character is required”, and while this is true of groundbreaking sculpture in the modern period, the contemporary era finds itself able to be considerably more versatile with both form and meaning. Instead of an ‘inherent’ character fixed to the medium, Closs’ sculptures in the gallery are in conversation with each other, and are both familiar and exciting to the viewer in this new setting; however, much like the work of Hepworth, it is easy to imagine work in ‘In Plain Sight’ in various environments, as their geometric and classical shapes are both bold and playful.

The strong curves and mucros located in this exhibition strongly resemble architectural masterpieces, yet in their environment of display they become something of a microcosmic depiction of the built environment. Whereas we move around and inside the buildings of the metropolis, Closs’ sculptures invite us to investigate their material properties and dynamic angles and the ways in which they have been manipulated using great craftsmanship. Hepworth was also fascinated by scale in her chosen medium, and believed that “vitality is not a physical, organic attribute of sculpture - it is a spiritual inner life”, and years after this was written, we find that this lies at the heart of contemporary art moreso than any other period in art history. Due to the familiar shapes found in Closs’ practice, we see that the viewer adopts this ‘vitality’ once we place the work in the context of personal memories, adopting a stance reminiscent of Guy Debord’s psychogeography.

Memories triggered by Closs’ work are highly personal to the artist following a residencyin Mexico City, yet in the context of south London the architectural symbolism is certainly transferable. While alabaster is not a fixture in the capital city’s urban design, the characteristic of stone brings attention back to the chromatic quality of grey in London, whether this is brutalist design, pavements, midwinter skies or pigeons. Despite these connotations, Closs’ use of stone is elegant and defined, and the effect of the sculptural works upon the viewer is a result of the material’s qualities and the artist’s very specific anecdotal references to Las Pozas in Mexico City. While large-scale exhibitions such as the Hayward Gallery’s 2014 show ‘The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture’ and Stockholm’s Moderna Museet’s ‘Sculpture After Sculpture’ in the same year looked at exactly that: the large-scale in contemporary art, ‘In Plain Sight’ focuses on the role of figure, geometry and fetish to conjure memories and an emotional response which is both direct and implicit.
Issey Scott is an art writer with research interests spanning texture, painting, contemporary architecture and the Anthropocene. In addition to freelance projects, Issey has worked with several galleries and museums and has written for Candid Magazine, LOBBY, GDC Interiors Journal and South East London Journal among others.