— How are the two exhibitions Simple Shapes and Simple Gestures connected?
— The two exhibitions share a common approach to human history. One shows how simple shapes both fascinate and predate mankind, and how they have evolved along with mankind subsequently.
The other shows how the simplest gestures — which are also the most ancient, performed by man for over 100,000 years — can create form. The point here is to study how the gestures we have invented are capable of reinventing us in turn, and how we, humans, have defined ourselves through the tools we make, from a needle to a flint-stone smoothed in the hand until it becomes an axe. The simplest tools are invariably the most decisive way-markers in the evolution of human techniques and technology.
The cultural history of humanity is the history of the invention of a specific set of gestures that have enabled us to build and organise society as we know it, and to guarantee the continued manufacture and transmission of the things we need in everyday human life. These simple gestures are the foundation of our culture; without them, we cannot go on. What we have tried to collect together and present here are man-made gestures, every day and accomplished gestures, gestures made (quite by chance) by plants, quasi-mechanical gestures that have developed without even thinking, even 'industrial' gestures that have been patented, as if it were actually possible to patent something pertaining to a living organism. In one instance, we see how simple gestures have structured and shaped our society. In the other, how simple shapes can express and synthetize the 'state of the art' (or the state of culture) at any given moment.
— Some of the artworks in Simple Shapes are made of everyday objects; does this mean that anything and everything can be art these days?
— Simple Gestures and Simple Shapes aren't trying to prove that anything can be art, but that many ordinary things can be beautiful, and that the act of making or doing can be just as beautiful as the act of looking. The collector of pebbles on a beach, or a nature-lover compiling a herbarium, or an artist, or a person decorating a propeller, can achieve striking beauty: the beauty inherent in movement (in the case of Simple Gestures) or the beauty of natural occurrence (as in Simple Shapes).
— Is Simple Shapes about aesthetics? Can you talk a little more about this?
— It's an exhibition exploring a rather mysterious aesthetic, because for a shape to be truly simple it must also be 'silent', devoid of any ideology, conveying no message, and it should be the product either of a context in which its human maker takes a step back, eschewing any form of psychological self-expression, any biographical, narrative, egotistical or narcissistic intent (as in the work of Brancusi or Kapoor), or a product of nature, singled out by the human eye. And so, this is an exhibition about the history of aesthetics, and the history of a particular fascination. The history of our human 'eye'.