French artist Jérémy Gobé has spent the past couple of weeks living and working at Fountainhead Residency in Morningside. His first visit to Miami has inspired him to create new sculptural pieces and remount an installation of his much-lauded Freedom Guided Wool (2014) at BassX. The exhibition space, located next door to the Bass Museum of Art's permanent home just west of Collins Park in Miami Beach, has been thriving despite renovations to its main building.
Much like the artist, Gobé's exhibition is deeply rooted in nostalgic reminiscences for his native home in rural northeastern France. "I believe that there is always a possibility of immortalizing certain traditions," Gobé explained at the opening of his first Miami show earlier this week. "I wanted, via my artistic work, to immortalize the French tradition of the jacquard loom. This old-fashioned pattern perfectly represents the French industrial production at its peak."
The immersive piece is a wood structure, with a woven wool fabric that is stretched over metal poles jutting out at different points. The result is an interactive soft-sculpture installation that envelopes the small BassX space — ultimately creating a cozy, folksy feel.
Gobé encourages spectators to carefully lean against the piece and feel the interplay between sinking and buoyancy. The juxtaposition of Old-World weaving techniques and a contemporary art context interests the artist.
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The ostensible disparity between form and context is meant to underscore the collapse of textile production in rural France. Even the installation's title is a reference to Eugene Delacroix's 1830 masterpiece, Liberty Leading the People, which recalls the revolutionary and popular fervor alive within the nation. Similarly, the red jacquard print in Gobé's piece dramatizes the offshoring of what was once an artisanal industry within France to Asia, where manufacturers went in search of cheap labor.
In addition to showing the installation, Gobé is also exhibiting sculptural pieces constructed during his time at Fountainhead, titled Nature's Imagination Scares Me. The work is on view in the storefront galleries at 23rd Street and Collins Avenue as part of Bass' public art program. Inspired my Fountainhead's lush vegetation, Gobé covers pieces of furniture with carefully selected materials. Coconuts, palm fronds, tree husks, and several other scavenged objects are used in his pieces, underscoring the importance of place and geography in his work.
"The Fountainhead residency is in a perfect place, surrounded by the bay and luxurious vegetation," he said. "Nature is the best artist I know, and the residency give me the opportunity to use nature as a new sculptural material."
Jeremy Gobé's Freedom Leading Wool
Through February 28 at BassX at the Miami Beach Regional Library, 227 22nd St., Miami Beach. Hours are Monday through Tuesday from noon to 8 p.m. and Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.