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  • “Sculptures” by Helmut Lang at Sperone Westwater gallery, NY © Sperone Westwater gallery

  • “Sculptures” by Helmut Lang at Sperone Westwater gallery, NY © Sperone Westwater gallery

  • “Sculptures” by Helmut Lang at Sperone Westwater gallery, NY © Sperone Westwater gallery

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“Sculptures” by Helmut Lang at Sperone Westwater gallery, NY

Sperone Westwater gallery recently inaugurated Helmut Lang’s latest exhibition of sculptures, marking the artist’s first New York gallery solo show. Helmut Lang, known for his revolutionary, minimal approach to fashion that earned him broad recognition during the 90’s, retired from fashion 10 years ago, after selling his stake in his eponymous label in order to focus solely on art. Since then, he has shown his work in various exhibitions around the world, captivating the art world with his sculptures that incorporate fabrics from his cloth archive in an “intersection of surface and texture, abstraction and figuration, personal memory and the abstract, and the natural and artificial”. The original idea came after an incident that meant to change his life: “In February 2010, after a fire in the building where our studio in New York is located, which could have destroyed the rest of the archive, and after going for months through the pieces to see in which condition they are, I slowly became intrigued by the idea of destroying it myself and use it as raw material for my art,” the artist told Dazed.

His latest exhibition features a series of pillar-like sculptures measuring between 10 and 12 feet high, made of archival fabrics, resin and pigment. The sculptures lean against the gallery walls, looking both raw and fragile, as if they were forming a forest of burned, dead trees. Also on view there is a series of delicate sculptures that resemble giant stalagmites cut open into half. They are made of resin and pigment pressed together in plankton-like sheets, which serve as a delicate contrast to the sculptural poles. Last, but not least, on the gallery walls one can contemplate a series of sculptures made of cardboard and resin that have a very organic quality to them. The artist belted them with wire and tape, in an attempt to picture the “embracement of the body” and transform them into “objects of contemplation”.

Lang, who has stated that prefers materials “with a certain history, elements with irreplaceable presence and with scars and memories of a former purpose”, normally begins his work process, both intellectually and form-wise, with an imaginary idea. “When the work matures and gets strong enough to fight you back, then you know it is a good idea to stop,” he told recently the Wall Street Journal. As for his decision to reuse more than 6,000 items of his archive, incorporating them into his sculptures, Lang says: “I don’t like to throw things away, but I also have the ability to end chapters of my life. I had done what I had to do [in fashion]. It was successful and a great experience, but I wanted to do more [in art]. I said, if I don’t do it now, let it go.” “Sculptures” by Helmut Lang will remain on view at Sperone Westwater gallery, NY, until February 21, 2015.