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Silver Tongued By Michael Anastassiades Explores Dialogues Between Objects

SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery is currently displaying Silver Tongued – an exhibition of unusual objects by Michael Anastassiades. We found out more about the work from the designer himself.

  • Installation view at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery



BY Narelle Yabuka

June 17th, 2019


To be silver tongued means to be eloquent and to have a way with words. In the context of an exhibition of objects, it may be interpreted in terms of a dialogue between the pieces, or between the pieces and the audience. Both of these interpretations are apt ways of thinking about Michael Anastassiades’ current show at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery in Wan Chai – his first solo show in Hong Kong.

Installation view at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, Michael Anastassiades

Installation view at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery

Evident in the exhibition Silver Tongued is the designer’s disciplined approach to form and material – preserving the inherent qualties of a material yet inviting interaction and dialogue. The forms created by Anastassiades invite multiple interpretations and associations, which bring richness to what at first may seem to be more straightforward.

The lighting and furniture pieces were designed specifically with this gallery space in mind. Two 275cm-high pendant lights, Down the Line and In Between the Lines, are presented in Anastassiades’ signature material of brass. Blah Blah and Blah Blah Blah serve as curvilinear hook-shaped objects. The stools Horafia and Kastellorizo were developed from a cut section of a date tree. Also presented are Fairest (polished gold stainless steel sphere, 2016) and the Floating Forest series of vases (polished brass, 2005).

Indesignlive.hk spoke to Anastassiades to find out more about the show, and how he thinks about the collection of objects.

Anastassiades_credit-Eirini-Vourloumis

Michael Anastassiades. Photo by Eirini Vourloumis

 

How did this exhibition come about?

I’ve known Taka [owner of Taka Ishii Gallery] for a few years now. I met him in London. He came to see my studio, because he was interested in the lighting I was doing. I knew of his gallery in Tokyo because of the interesting program they have. He invited me to take part in a group exhibition in his space, so I sent a few of my pieces there. Then he told me he was opening the space in Hong Kong. He said he’d like me to be showing during Art Basel Hong Kong. It was great because it was a solo show. It was a really nice collaboration.

'Between the Lines' (2019), satin brass, michael anastassiades

‘Between the Lines’ (2019), satin brass

What did you want to express with this exhibition?

It was very much a reaction to the space, and to the geographic location. Also, it was a mixture of personal things that I wanted to develop. Producing these stools was a spontaneous idea I had. They were pieces I collected from one of my trips to Greece – sections of a date tree. I decided to sculpt them in basalt stone, which I felt was an appropriate material for these pieces.

The texture behind the stools in the show is a concrete render that I saw on one of my trips to Shanghai… The texture of the wall reminded me very much of the texture on the stool itself. And it was quite interesting because it was a mixture of things, but somehow they fell into place very beautifully.

Everything in the exhibition comes in pairs: two stools, two hooks, two lamps, and two spheres. So there was that dialogue between these pieces in pairs.

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“Everything in the exhibition comes in pairs: two stools, two hooks, two lamps, and two spheres.”

– Michael Anastassiades

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'Kastellorizo' (2019), Stone Basaltina, Anastassiades

‘Kastellorizo’ (2019), stone basaltina

Why was basalt an appropriate material for the stools?

Well it was more a spontaneous reaction. I found them on this island in Greece, which is called Kastellorizo. I’ve been going to this island for the last three years. I found them one afternoon while I was having a walk. They were sitting outside this house. It reminded me so much of this idea of something overflowing – like lava coming out of a volcano and solidifying in weird formations… This is why I thought basalt was quite appropriate.

[These pieces] reminded me of the work of Lynda Benglis, an American artist who happened to have a house in Kastellorizo. So it was very much a spontaneous reaction to something I saw, which made complete sense in the end.

Installation view at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery anastassiades

Installation view at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery

How did the layout of the exhibition support what you wanted to say with the pieces? You mentioned things being presented in pairs. Could you elaborate? 

It had to work with the space – the sense of intimacy in the space. At the same time, if you try to put so many objects in a small space, you have to lay them out in a way that doesn’t feel crowded. This was the feeling I wanted to create with the layout. The objects are carefully placed. The pairs are not directly next to each other, but when you enter the space you can spot them. The pairing becomes apparent. You see one and then you see another one, and you think of the previous one you had seen. The fact that they’re all different from each other, but they’re referencing each other.

The hooks, for example, I produced in kind of opposite ways – like a tongue. You have a long tongue that curls up, and another tongue that curls down and inwards. But at the same time, I call them hooks because the functional aspect is very important for me. They’re not just abstract art objects. I like the idea of putting function on them, even though sometimes this function might be a little bit hard to imagine.

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“They’re not just abstract art objects. I like the idea of putting function on them, even though sometimes this function might be a little bit hard to imagine.”

– Michael Anastassiades

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Anastassiades_hooks

‘Blah Blah’ (left) and ‘Blah Blah Blah’ (right), 2019, polished brass

Currently, what is front of mind for you in terms of what you wish to explore and achieve in your work?

Well, every time [I work] I have a different reaction toward things I see, and how I engage with that. The work I developed with Taka Ishii is a new way of collaborating, because the pieces are really spontaneous in a way, and they’re free in their expression. I’m a designer and I produce objects for people to use. What I produced here is slightly different – slightly more spontaneous and more free.

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“I’m a designer and I produce objects for people to use. What I produced here is slightly different – slightly more spontaneous and more free.”

– Michael Anastassiades

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'Down the Line' (2019), satin brass michael anastassiades

‘Down the Line’ (2019), satin brass

What does this bring to your work as a designer? What does it bring to the work you might do in the future?

Well I think it’s good to create a balance – if you look at your work, you find that the soul needs to be balanced. I try to choose or accept projects that create this balance and variety. So for me, it’s fundamental to continue working that way. Unfortunately, or maybe even better, it doesn’t happen on a daily basis. I’m not in the art world, so [I was] working with a gallery as a designer. I think these are very much design objects rather than art objects.

Installation view at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, Michael Anastassiades

Installation view at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery

Much of your work has an artistic inclination. Would you agree with that observation?

Well it’s an observation that often comes to me. It’s not intentional. I’m a designer. That’s what I do. I call these objects, I call these products… Different people have their own interpretations. The most important thing is how I see the work. I see it as product.

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Silver Tongued is on show until 30 June 2019 at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, Shops 4A & 4B, UG/F, Bo Fung Mansion, No.1 St. Francis Yard, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. 

Portrait photo by Eirini Vourloumis, © Michael Anastassiades Ltd. Courtesy of SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, Hong Kong. Exhibition photography by Kitmin Lee, courtesy of SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, Hong Kong.