A Review of Flavie Audi: Cell-(estial) at Tristan Hoare Gallery, London
Tucked away in an elegant Georgian townhouse on Fitzroy Square, Flavie Audi’s kaleidoscopic glass creations at Tristan Hoare Gallery offer an otherworldly immersive experience. This is glass as you have never seen it before - experimental forms that inhibit a state far removed from the conventional everyday functions of the material. Glass is an underrated medium with regard to fine art; it thus provides an incredibly unique material for Audi’s opportunistic and insightful creative process, which she herself cites as experimental and innovative.
I was fortunate enough to see the show on a stunning winter morning - natural sunlight adding an ethereal element to Audi’s glass creations, which come into their own with each changing play of light throughout the day. Her first solo exhibition, Cell-(estial) is intended to use glass as a tool with which to explore the relationship between the real and the artificial; the worlds of natural and virtual creation. Glass itself is a material which embodies both of these worlds. Naturally formed when lightning strikes sand, it can also be man-made by manipulating sand; furthermore, in its man-made form it forms the basis of technology, of the screens of mobile phones, televisions, and the like.
Originally trained as an architect, Audi’s interest in glass began as she realised the limitations of structure. Glass for her seems to provide an opportunity to experiment and manipulate, freed of the restrictions of minimalist architecture. During her last year at architectural college, Audi wrote her thesis on structural glass. Realising glass was a passion she wanted to further pursue, she completed a Master’s degree in glass at London’s Royal College of Art - enjoying the opportunity to work with her hands in a more connected form of creation. Interestingly the history of glass is rooted in her native Lebanon, which adds an intimate sphere to the relationship between the artist and her art.
The glass works in Cell-(estial) have a highly sculptural quality, which gives them each a heightened sense of individuality. There is an aspect of chance with glass-making and blowing, a concept that Audi likes to play with. Yet, despite this, there is a scientific quality to her work - in the play of materials, and in the process of oxidising silver that she combines with glass in a chemical reaction that contributes to the fascinating hues in each work in this show.
Organic forms in dynamic shapes and colours make up the body of Audi’s work. The first two rooms in the show feature glass creations, the third dedicated to digital forms. Cloudscape 8 is a fascinating triangular construction of individual glass pieces, arranged according to Euclidean perspective - a work that, I must admit, in this festive season, reminded me happily of a box of Quality Street. Cloudscape 7, by contrast, takes on randomised forms that recall a galaxy of stars, enhanced by its placement on a graphite grey wall.
Cleverly-curated both by Tristan and Flavie, the carefully thought out arrangement of the pieces in the show reflects the artist's architectural background; she sees her work as a whole, with a very curatorial eye - even down to her choice of paint colours for the walls. A pick and mix of dazzling colours adorn each work, adding an element of the surreal and sublime to the show. Audi’s body of work seems both to explore and transcend geological forms - with titles like Fluid Rocks, Bubbles of Space, and Gemscape. I especially liked the little pot plants that Flavie painted individually, included to complement the organic forms of the glassware. The unimaginably indulgent shapes and shades of each glass piece are mimicked in a short film, made in collaboration with Samantha Lee, that accompanies the works, an intriguingly digital aspect of the show. The film itself, like the works, has an immersive quality. Mesmerising shots of glass in all forms, from molten liquid to shattering solid, are created digitally to question the separate yet co-dependent relationship between manmade and natural forms. Entitled Landscapes of Mass Replication, it sets Audi’s work in a ‘futuristic virtual realm’ that is beautifully offset by the objects in the first two rooms.
Written by Georgie Messervy, a contributor to Arteviste.com