Paul de Monchaux: Volutes
8th – 25th January 2019
6 Duke Street St James’s, London, SW1Y 6BN
Mon – Fri, 10 – 6
‘The volute has been around since antiquity in art, and much longer in nature, but its permutations still seem to be infinite. Its scrolling geometry turns shapes inwards, returning them to their centres and arresting the passage of dominant trajectories. It is a powerful compositional tool and was the core structure used to anchor improvisation in the sculptures on show.’ Paul de Monchaux, 2018
Megan Piper and Bowman Sculpture are pleased to present an exhibition of Paul de Monchaux’s Volutes. The exhibition coincides with the publication of the first monograph dedicated to Paul Monchaux’s art, documenting six decades of studio works and public commissions. The book includes an essay by Natalie Rudd and an interview with Jon Wood, the publisher is Ridinghouse.
The word volute is used to describe the capital of an Ionic column in classical architecture. The Ionic column was considered to have female attributes and its volutes at the top have been variously described as being leaves, the curls of a woman’s hair, animals’ horns or a demonstration of the Fibonacci progression.
The Volutes that form the basis of this exhibition span 27 years. This is the first time that Volute I (1991) has been exhibited and Volute VI (2018) is the 84-year old artist’s most recent work. Here, presented in plaster, Volute VI has echoes of a pregnant form as soft curves bend, stretch and double back. Your eye follows the sinuous lines of the sculpture, which engage in near continuous movement like a ‘swimmer in space’.
As the series has progressed over time, the Volutes have become increasingly free and flowing but traces of the mollusc-like form of Volute I can still be found. The dynamic lines of the Volutes invite associations from architecture to the human figure, flora to geometry, however they persist in being sufficiently open for viewers to project their own impressions.
During a trip to Toulouse, de Monchaux heard two singers, each standing at opposite ends of a vast and empty cathedral nave, practicing a ‘call and response’ sequence. Song School (2009) refers to this encounter and is included in this exhibition as a companion piece to Volute II (2007). The core geometries of the two pieces are similar and a call and response, of a different kind, is played out in their presentation.