Leonor Antunes: the apparent length of a floor area

24.06.23 – 08.10.23

Leonor Antunes engages with traditions of modernist art, architecture and design through sculpture made and displayed with the specifics of a given place in mind. The forms and materials of her sculptures reference a history of modernism embedded in the work of its less visible protagonists; overlooked, often female, artists and designers. This cast of historical ‘companions’ enters Antunes’ work in enigmatic ways – through an echo of form or measurement, or the replication of a particular knot, hinge, colour or material – infusing it with their spirit and sensibility. Recent research has led Antunes to the work of architect, designer and writer Sadie Speight, whose work included a house in Cumbria for textile designer Alistair Morton of Edinburgh Weavers. Cork, a traditional Portuguese material Antunes has used frequently in her previous work, now has a different resonance for her, inspired by Speight’s extensive use of it in her interiors.

Antunes’s vision for her exhibition at Fruitmarket turned around a cork floor-piece engraved with a pattern taken from the work of Marian Pepler, an architect and designer who is known for the modern rugs she produced in the 1930s. Such points of reference build on Antunes’s extensive engagement with Latin American mid-century modernists like Brazilian architect Lino Bo Bardi and sculptor Mira Schendel. The exhibition explored many of these trajectories, as they are entangled together in her work, creating multiple conversations between past and present and across continents. Antunes’s sculptural installations,  which often draw on artisanal techniques and processes, undermine traditional distinctions between art, design and craft. Her layered, cumulative method allows audiences to think about sculpture in new ways.

The exhibition included existing and new work as well as the cork floor, and extended through all the spaces of Fruitmarket – the airy modernism of the Exhibition Galleries and the rough materiality of the Warehouse. It was curated by Briony Fer who collaborated with Fruitmarket on previous solo exhibitions of work by Eva Hesse and Gabriel Orozco, and who wrote the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition, looking at Antunes’s work in the context of the largely overlooked modernist legacies it unearths.

Supported by Longrow Capital


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Images: Nick Ash


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