Blastfurnace, the new exhibition from Dutch artist and designer Joep Van Lieshout is “an escape from design.”
The exhibition, staged at London’s Carpenters Workshop Gallery, brings together three recent works in bronze as part of Van Lieshout’s New Tribal Labyrinth series.
Van Lieshout, who founded his Rotterdam-based studio in 1995, combines industry and art to convey messages about equilibrium and anti-consumerism. The exhibition is, he says, “an escape from design, a hate and love towards design.” The artist, known for his large-scale sexual sculptures, has previously produced furniture for the Dutch brand Lensvelt, as well as collaborating on architectural projects with studios such as MVRDV.
Blastfurnace, a three-level bronze structure, depicts all the elements in a steel factory, including the furnace, water wheel and bellows pumping air into the lower section of the blast furnace.
The work, Van Lieshout says, “is an extreme contradiction of form follows function. I am not looking for the most functional coffee table or shelving unit; this is not important in the design process. It’s actually the opposite.
“I ask myself the question how can you make a piece of furniture that is very dysfunctional. You can maybe put your car keys and cigarettes on the table, but that’s it”.
Now, Van Lieshout plans to add a new dimension to his work. “I want to reinvent the industrial revolution by making a blast furnace, sawmills, machine factories, textile factories on a real scale.”
The studio is working on reproducing its blast furnace model as a life-size scale blast furnace: ten metres in height and with the function to produce real steel. It plans to exhibit in Zurich and Marseille next summer.