20 November - 30 December 2012 Seoul

Period | 20 November– 30 December, 2012
Venue | Arario Gallery Seoul cheongdam
Opening Reception | 6pm Tuesday, 20 November, 2012

Press release

Arario Gallery Seoul Cheongdam is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Tom Price, a British artist celebrated in the contemporary design world for his unique material experimentations. The exhibition presents a total of 12 works by the artist, including 10 chairs from his representative work, Meltdown Series, as well as the painting PP EXP #1 and the large installation work, PP Tree, which gives a general overview of the artist’s oeuvre. Presenting works that encompass the realms of both fine art and design today where the dividing line between art and industrial art is ever more blurred, this exhibition provides a glimpse into new possibilities in art.

Tom Price is a London-born artist whose unconventional approach and use of materials combine to create a diverse range of works that lie somewhere between the worlds of design and fine art. Process is a key element of Price’s work in which common everyday materials are partially or wholly transformed and reinvented in strange but beautiful ways. Price received acclaim as a designer for his Meltdown Sseries, a body of work emerging from a unique experimental production process applied to assemblages of plastics such as nylon cable ties, polypropylene (PP) rope and plumbing tubes, Polyethylene (PE) sheeting, and discarded polyester clothing. A new form and outcome results every time, as a seat-shaped former is heated and pressed into each assembly of materials. The shape of the former is loosely based on the form of an Eames chair. This is partly to ensure that the melted surfaces offer a comfortable and ergonomically proven place to sit, but the familiarity of the form also helps to divert attention away from the actual design of the seat and allow the material to take centre stage. What makes Price’s chairs so unique is the distinct contrast between the melted and the non-melted surfaces, demonstrating a new artistic possibility for materials that are normally so familiar to us in their ordinary utilitarian forms.

The installation work, PP TREE, evolved from techniques and experiments developed during production of the Meltdown Series. It is primarily an expression of the capabilities of the material (common polypropylene plumbing tubes) but it is also an examination of our attitudes towards plastics. The affordability and versatility of plastics has led to mass consumption, disposability and irresponsible applications. It is not surprising then that our impressions of plastics tend to be very negative. Through PP Tree, however, the artist questions our values and perceptions. Though made entirely from appropriated polypropylene pipes and cable ties, the delicate play of light and gracefulness of the formed tubes encourage us to look beyond the intended application and appreciate the poetic potential of the banal.

The work consists of a cluster of trees reminiscent of cherry trees in full bloom, filling the entire exhibition space. The individual plastic pipes used to make the trees are each laboriously manipulated into sweeping curves using heat. They are then grouped together in configurations that suggest tree-like forms and secured with cable ties. As the pipes are formed independently and not to any predetermined design, the shape of each tree is largely dictated by the juxtaposition of one pipe to another and the compatibility of the various twists and curves. The ‘blossom’, made of thin slices of pipe, partially melted on one side to form randomly clustered sheets, is suspended and secured to the twisting tree branches. The configuration of the trees is designed specifically in response to the space it occupies. Emanating delicacy and mystique through the light that penetrates and radiates from the small tube openings, PP TREE re-focuses on a realm of art in which the very identity and significance of material itself becomes lost in the drama of the experience.

The PP EXP paintings are created by arranging concentric rings of black, white and grey polypropylene pipe inside one another and melting one end whilst applying varying degrees of pressure to each ring. The result, when cooled is a surface of ambiguous swirling, explosive monochromatic pigments, created blind and largely by chance, and each entirely unique.

For the artist, these experiments embody the essence of what he tries to capture within his work, allowing the materials to speak for themselves and removing himself as much as possible from the process. In all his experiments with materials and processes, it is the small details, rather than the big picture that hold the most fascination; where materials liquefy, discolour, blend and burn, and where true alchemy occurs, completely beyond control.

About the artist
Tom Price was born in England in 1973. He majored in Fine Art at Bath College of Art and studied Furniture Design at London Metropolitan University. In 2007 he received his MA at the Royal College of Art. This background has contributed to the application of new and experimental techniques in design. Price was acknowledged as a world-class designer this year when he was awarded the title of Designer of the Year at the international Boomsp Design and Architecture Festival in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Other awards include the Boss Design Mentoring Award and the Peter Walker Award given to innovative furniture designers. Price was also selected as finalist for BIDA, supervised by the British Interior Design Association in 2005.

Price’s works are included in the permanent collections of several major international art institutions such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Denver Art Museum; MKG Hamburg, Germany. Public art commissions include sculptures in Kimbrose Square in Gloucester England; and the Royal Terrace Gardens in Torquay, England. Price currently lives and works in London.

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