If you get the feeling that you’ve just walked into a mega-high-end toilet showroom as you enter Nicolas Deshayes’s new exhibition, you’re not that wide of the mark. The French artist is seriously into plumbing, and the collection of glistening ceramic sculptures here is inspired by the twisting shapes and undulating curves of… bogs: U-bends and bidets, stopcocks and urinals.
But Deshayes sees something that you and I might miss during our daily ablutions – countless symbols for the body. The works here are like bathroom porcelains twisted inside out to reveal their shimmering guts. In the process, they end up looking like breasts, vaginas and penises, all glazed in bodily browns and pinks or perfect whites.
In Deshayes’s eyes, the bathroom is like a metaphor for the ways bodies fit together sexually: holes and tubing that flow and interlock into one another. After a bit of time spent wandering around the works they start to feel almost fleshily and real. Deshayes’s near-lusty, scatological view of these everyday objects becomes infectious.
And what really helps is that they’re gorgeous. Almost every piece is sparklingly attractive, begging to be touched, perfectly glazed and neatly curved. They’re prime bits of modern sculpture that happen to be inspired by dunnies.
There’s precedent here, most obviously Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal, but it’s the globby sexuality of the works that sets them apart. If Deshayes has his way you’ll never look at a bog, or a plumber, again without a twinkle in your eye.