Sylvie Fleury talks brands, cars and bold simplicity
Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury, whose 30-year career has been marked by a clear vision of consumer culture, is showing a selection of pieces at Sprüth Magers Gallery in London over the years (until 4 November). “It started with the idea of doing some celebrations. Me and Philomene (Magers, co-founder of the gallery) started with my first solo exhibition in 30 years,” says Flory.
The pieces on display include celebrity ephemera Devils on wheels, a women-only car club, was founded by Flory in the 1990s after being rejected from the car racing club. Also on display is The first spaceship on Venus (1995-today), A series that focuses on the idea of masculinity around science fiction and outer space travel. “By creating rockets in a range of media, Flory mocks their phallic symbolism through the use of colors and materials associated with ‘femininity,’” an exhibition statement says.
Florey’s critique of self-improvement remains closely related to textual works such as Lush lips (1997) which carries the message: “The latest developments in injection.” On the top floor of the gallery are other poems about self-love, consumerism and fashion such as Chrome Kelly Bag (crocodile), 2013.
What’s it like to see the pieces come together for the first time in decades? “It’s a bit like when you meet old friends you haven’t seen for a long time. You’re happy to see them but then you’re surprised that some of them have aged more than others. So it doesn’t feel like a retrospective but more like another reunion.” Says.
The sprawling survey at Sprüth Magers culminates a busy period for Fleury, which had a wide-ranging show earlier this year at Turin’s Pinacoteca Agnelli space. “A compelling feminist,” as she calls herself, Flory confronts the mechanisms of desire production and value construction, and how they interact with gender politics. The curators said.
Since the 1980s, Florey has produced pop art-inspired works that comment on gender politics and society’s fascination with luxury goods. The ground floor of Sprüth Magers is filled with old shopping bags and a piece of mirror showing a woman (Fleury herself) wearing a checkered two-piece suit captures a wealth of designer shopping items (There is no time for a man2023).
“There was always the issue of clothing and fashion which basically didn’t interest me much but I used to say things other than ‘I love shopping’.
“I have always enjoyed investigating the mechanisms of our society (…) I think what is interesting (about the show) is to show all this in a new light and see what happens,” says the artist.
Throughout the survey, Florey refers in her own way to male Conceptual artists such as Daniel Buren, Carl Andre, and Michelangelo Pistoletto (the mirror work mentioned above refers to the work of Pistoletto). Mirror panels1963 – today, while the frescoes with vertical lines are in harmony with Buren’s distinctive idea).
“I’m just playing,” she says. “There was all this simple, beautiful, elegant design and I thought, let’s play with it. But that’s not intentional, it’s not about being bad, and maybe just a little disrespectful. This, to me, is very much about the idea of trends or for example how certain brands will take Artists’ works because they feel they can inject content. From the beginning I said I was interested in this crossover, for better or worse.
For now, she’s enjoying the moment in London at the height of art time (the exhibition opened during Friesian Art Week) while looking forward to a big show next year in Rotterdam. “It’s interesting to me that the gallery wants to show my older works when I feel like most galleries want newer works. It’s a good challenge,” she adds.