‘‘The transition from solid to liquid is a magic of physics. A moment of tilting from static to movement, a passage from the inert to the living.’’
In continuation of his Liquid Marble series, Mathieu Lehanneur brings us a surrealistic and materialised vision of a dynamic ocean frozen in time. As a three-dimensional still picture, the works in Lehanneur’s new collection, Ocean Memories, capture the complex movements of waves and currents.
Designed digitally and made from blocks of marble or polished bronze, these pieces make it impossible to mistake the relief of the water. The environment is reflected and the light is distorted. As impossible impressions, real scenes of the ebb and flow of ocean waves seem to have been extracted intact, before being fixed in matter.
Through this collection, Mathieu Lehanneur delves deeper into his exploration between the geometric and organic. In fact, each of the works reveals this fluid and progressive transition between the two states of matter.
Ocean Memories tables, benches and stools manifest elements of energy, movement and strength. Although the function of each piece is easily recognisable, the works transcend such definitions. Their movement and suggested dynamic state reflects these fragments of oceans as potential life fixed forever in stone and bronze.
Mathieu Lehanneur | Q&A
As an artist and designer, you have a deep appreciation of the environment, as demonstrated by the Andrea air purifier and the Clover project, which coincided with COP21 in Paris. In what ways has Ocean Memories continued your investigation of environmental themes, from both aesthetic and social perspectives?
We live on a planet where water covers 75% of the surface. The ocean is our origin, and water is our main physiological component. Yet, it is the element that remains the most enigmatic to our civilisation. In fact, scientists have a better understanding of the moon’s surface than of the ocean’s seabed.
Ocean Memories feeds on all of this. The marble and bronze works of this series forces us to confront our past, our present, and our potential future. They represent the tangible implication of our human state; living in a living world. When facing the ocean, we feel both our strength and fragility. I try to capture this in Ocean Memories: the polished black marble implies relief and deepness, while the bronze is reminiscent of the sun’s warm glow. Ocean Memories eternally freezes the incessant movement of the sea and the world.
In Ocean Memories, the tension between solid and liquid states of matter is heightened. What fascinates you about this liminal space of metamorphosis?
For many years, I have been fascinated by the implicated tensions between different states of matter, and have continued to explore this in my work. From solid to gaseous in my S.M.O.K.E series, from rigid to flexible through Les Cordes chandelier and the Spring series, from liquid to solid in Ocean Memories. For me, this tension puts objects into motion, or more precisely, brings them to life. Thus, all the pieces I create are no longer stagnant objects, but are rather objects in constant metamorphosis.
In this sense, water is a fascinating material because it has the ability to absorb all states of matter. From solid ice to light snow, from liquid state to gaseous state…
I further this exploration in Ocean Memories by offering a new state of matter, a state that nature and science have never been able to reproduce: the hybridisation of various water forms – visually liquid and structurally solid.
In what ways is Ocean Memories a departure from your 2016 Spring series? Were there specific conditions when translating the rhythm and movement of water into polished bronze?
The Spring exhibition in 2016 highlighted a personal exploration of transformation, manifested through varied materials: aluminium, onyx, glass and light.
Naming the collection Spring suggested a season of transformation and evolution of nature’s forms and colours, while the Ocean Memories approach is more focused and radical. It emphasises a single phenomenon through manipulation of two materials: marble and bronze. If Spring could be seen as a material cabinet of curiosities, Ocean Memories is a more specific and profound study.
Marble and bronze are resources that our civilisation has used and investigated for centuries. I like that they are not related to a particular time or place; that they are primitive materials.
The works in Ocean Memories were developed using a complex 3D software, which created the transformation and hybridisation of these ancestral materials into contemporary digital.
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