The unusual scenography was created for the exhibition titled Paula Rego: There and Back Again at the Kestner Gesellschaft art association and has been shortlisted in the exhibition design category of the 2023 Dezeen Awards.
Didier Faustino and his practice Mésarchitecture created a series of display walls for the show, providing additional surface area inside the building for displaying Rego’s work while referencing her distorted artistic style.
“The aim of the scenography is to emphasise the contemporaneity of Paula Rego’s work, as well as to echo the violence of the world she describes,” said Faustino.
The Portuguese-British artist, who died aged 87 in 2022, was known for her stark depictions of injustice – particularly against women – and has been heralded as a feminist icon.
Unfolding across four rooms over two levels, the exhibit comprised 80 works including paintings, drawings, prints and costume designs.
To display some of the larger or more important paintings, Faustino built a variety of freestanding wooden structures with shapes and protrusions that respond to the architecture of each space, as well as the sizes of the specific frames.
He then wrapped these structures in white thermo-retractable film and exposed the material to heat so it pulled taught over the formwork.
“Walls to hang her paintings have been designed with protruding parts, giving them a grotesque appearance resembling the grotesque figures of the artist,” Faustino said.
“Their wrapping with heat-shrink white film, with its stretched and wrinkled parts, gives a sense of both tension and sensuality.”
Faustino also pulled several colours from Rego’s paintings and applied these to the perimeter walls that surround the sculptural displays.
More artworks and exhibition texts were presented on these brightly-hued surfaces, which contrasted with the stark white plastic. The exhibition was Rego’s first institutional solo show in Germany and ran from 30 October 2022 to 29 January 2023.
Faustino’s work spans both art and architecture, ranging from bright spiky doorways and stages added to historic buildings, to a bar interior in Ghent with pink marble walls and olive green furnishings.
The photography is by David Boureau.
Paula Rego: There and Back Again took place at the Kestner Gesellschaft from 30 October 2022 to 29 January 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.
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