Please Don't Touch
David Sokol -- Interior Design, 11/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
In 1959, architect Miguel Fisac embarked on what would become a lifelong obsession with concrete, casting it in flexible molds that yielded under its weight to render repeated organic shapes. Applying them to building facades, primarily in Madrid, Fisac made a monolithic material "look incredibly soft," Andrew Kudless says. "He captured the moment of transition between fluid and solid." As the founder and principal of the design studio Matsys, Kudless began experimenting with similarly irregular forms, only in plaster, to build an installation called P_Wall. That was in 2005, the year before Fisac's death. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art commissioned a second iteration of P_Wall for the recent "Sensate: Bodies and Design."
It took three months to create the 150 bulging, dimpled modules required to fill a 45-foot-long gallery wall. Kudless poured plaster into four different hexagonal framework molds containing wooden dowels over which nylon had been stretched, allowing the slurry to flow freely around and extend the fabric. "You couldn't analyze the form of this project without relating it to material performance and how it was made," Kudless says. He goes on to compare the shapes to the human body, "effectively a liquid interior negotiating an elastic skin."
Onlookers naturally wanted to stroke the installation as it curved out from the wall. Transfixed, even the most seasoned art viewer momentarily forgets museum restrictions.