Whether she is sculpting, welding or casting, Hélène de Saint Lager’s bold instinct for materials infuses her work with a kind of chaotic energy, albeit restrained in deeply artful forms. 2019 is a significant year for the Parisian artist, whose recent collaborators include Peter Marino – who commissioned her to create interiors pieces for his Dior and Louis Vuitton boutique designs – and Jacques Garcia for Schiaparelli.
De Saint Lager’s debut London exhibition is currently on show at 18 Davies Street Gallery – with a just-announced extended run, while a Design Museum outing of her work is due later this year.
The 18 Davies Street show comprises a collection of seemingly imperfect interior pieces in resin, aluminum, bronze and gold leaf. But while the various metalwork chair and table designs for which De Saint Lager is known intrigue in their strange organic frames, it is the ‘depth, fluidity and transparency’ of resin that currently fascinates the artist.
From a distance the table tops have a glossy, flat finish, but further inspection reveals deep, swirling vortexes of gold leaf fragments created from cast and moulded polyester resin mixes underneath. The effect is at once disconcerting and transfixing, the glinting lights creating an illusory feeling that everything is moving, or strangely roused to life.
A graduate of the École de Louvre, De Saint Lager’s background in art history has compelled her to try various artistic expressions throughout her working life – painting restoration, millinery, jewellery design, sculpture and metalwork among them. Today, she works from her corrugated-iron ‘studio-laboratory’ on the fringes of Paris, painstakingly experimenting with familiar materials and light play.
The results include experimental contemporary bodies of work, such as this compelling mish-mash of tables, chairs, light fixtures and mirrors, which shimmer and glow like a cache of otherworldy, oversized jewels. §