Arad, an Israeli architect and industrial designer who calls London home, first gained notoriety in 1981 with his Rover Chair, which fused together two ready-mades: a red-leather bucket seat from the eponymous British car, and a tubular steel frame repurposed from a milking stall. After showing his design objects at the Friedman Benda gallery for 10 years, Arad has switched dealers, and for his Kasmin debut, he’s back to toying with cars—only “in reverse,” as his show title puts it.
Instead of his usual practice of making functional objects out of found materials, Arad is returning to his initial interest in making art by presenting six Fiat 500s flattened like tin cans and hung on the walls like abstract reliefs. They’re based on his memory of his family’s first car, which was the same make and model. Each title is the piece’s color prefaced by the words pressed flower, which only enhances the sense that we’re looking at a kind of postindustrial Proustian reverie with mangled madeleines. What were once utilitarian items become objects of art that are both whimsical and wistful.
Pressed Flower Yellow, for example, resembles a rambling wreck bouncing down a road in a Saturday morning cartoon; Pressed Flower Navy Blue surrealistically flaunts its profile and underbelly at the same time; and Pressed Flower White literally explodes with petals of car doors and dragging bumpers.
Arad nods to Nouveaux Réalistes Arman and César, as well as John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg and Robert Rauschenberg. Looking for the ride that will take him back to his past, Arad playfully rummages through the junkyard of art history.—Paul Laster