One of today’s most recognisable ‘art-brands’, Sylvie Fleury’s work fluently bridges art, fashion, and design. Spanning across a wide range of media – from painting, to sculpture, assemblage, photography and silk screen prints – to showcase some of her most renowned pieces, Fleury’s work flirts shamelessly with subversion, implicating macho-conquest and pop production as a distinctly female domain. Fleury’s subjects blur the everyday and the fantastical – from couture shopping, muscle cars, to nature’s psychotropic bounties – elevating kitsch to opulently luxurious spectacle (and vice versa).
Running throughout the exhibition are three of Fleury’s favourite subjects: gorgeous shoes, fast cars, and 1960s style-icon painting. A series of photographic stills from Fleury’s 2005 video Strange Fire pictures a pair of star-spangly stilettos reducing a sea of glass Christmas tree ornaments to precious-pretty rubble; the carnage of when beauty meets attitude is redoubled in her black marble Chanel Yeti Boots – accompanied by a requisite bronze cast Balenciaga handbag – the epitome of classicism v. well-heeled barbarity. Ash Plumes to the Iron Soul stages a pair of wellies perched atop a smoke filled crate flanked by fronds of feathers in primary hues, elevating statuesque portraiture, with all its parlour room repose, to new smouldering innuendo levels.
Taking their cues from the worlds of fashion and advertising, her abstract and text-based canvases are as much about the exclusive macho codes of painting as the fixating allure of surface.
Her lush Untitled splatter compositions, reminiscent of Pollock’s drizzles, explode in a barrage of Maybelline colours: set against black backgrounds, bursts of concealer beige and eye shadow blue decimate the boundaries between seduction and violence; while in other works, Daniel Buren and Lucio Fontana are each given makeovers: their pop abstractions appropriated and hilariously feminised (or more appropriately, vagazzled). With text paintings from her Miniskirts Are Back series – their fashionista manifesto typeset in horror movie script, emblazoned in cosmetic gloss sheen – Warhol-esque screen prints of Sweet and Low packages, and cuddly fake fur minimalist effigies, Fleury restages pop’s frivolous pose; un-ironically, uncannily levelling the symbolic brand values of beauty, the synthetic, and abjection.
Four large canvases from her Flame series – which have become something of Fleury’s personal logo – set hotrod details ablaze in her signature pink. Following on this automotive theme, her steel panel Crash Tests replicate the format of colour field paintings; dented and warped, their candy hued gloss surfaces reframe modernist elegance as an impetus of seduction and collateral damage. Fleury’s man-eater trump, however, isn’t in hot and fast mechanics, but her oversized fairytale mushrooms: wonderfully trippy, weirdly futuristic, and utterly, erotically, scandalous, their holographic sheen belies a deceptive allure of surface, the very source of Fleury’s own-brand aphrodisiac.