Sebastian Brajkovic tries to take the objects that he draws in his sketchbook and invest them with meaning. He explores materials and dimensions in an attempt to describe, understand and pin them down. In his ‘Lathe’ series, he takes an 18th century chair in the neo-classical style as his starting point. He breaks it down into its creative components before reconstituting it, creating a whole new family of chairs, reshaping our perspectives. He reinvents, as happened in the 19th century, the face-to-face position of the seating, the confidante, the bench and the fainting couch. Left behind is the indelible mark of the moulding, the shape and the grain of the wood which rise ever so gently to the surface of the patinated bronze. The nod to this particular period in the history of furniture-making represents a tribute to the skills of craftspeople everywhere. Sebastian Brajkovic puts a new spin on the classic figurative floral tapestry motif, all the better to defy the structures of visual perception. As on a page of writing, with deconstructed thoughts, he uses digital technology to recount his fascination for the world in which we live. A world that is characterized by connectivity, speed and sharing. In this way he pays homage to the ideas and drawings of the Futurists, who communicated their enthusiasm for progress as epitomized by the world of machines, a world of speed: ‘I believe in a transcendental vision. I try to reproduce life, to create the illusion of movement and change, when all along this is impossible. I like to express change, development, hope. My vision seeks to tackle the issue of permanency.’
“Vanishing Point” is comprised of several pieces, including ‘Fibonacci’ which expresses a theory of growth drawn up by an Italian mathematician towards the end of the 12th century. The chair’s organic design is further emphasized by the amazing embroidery work performed by the craftspeople of the Maison Lesage embroidery workshop. A bench, composed of five chairs, spreads out like a crowd of people or a herd of animals on the move, an eight-footed creature with an embroidered hide. This animal-like creation sports scales with a geometric pattern rather like that seen in the marquetry of the cabinetmaker Oeben (18th century). This pattern gradually disappears, morphing into something else. A confidante for lovers, a smiling chair, full of a dynamic sensuality inspired by Carlo Mollino’s designs, rounds off the collection. ‘Vanishing Point’ takes the skill of the craftsperson, the new art of digital craftsmanship and bronze sculpture and turns them into embodied realities. The exhibition invites us to adopt a perspective focusing on the tangible, the alive, the dynamic. An ideal that represents life. Sebastian Brajkovic’s creative process is a ‘work in progress’, an endless game, the journey from functional item to work of art: ‘My objects are sculptures, but at the same time they are perfectly functional in their design. In painting, I’m drawn to the ‘blurred effect’ and distortion, twisting, rather like Francis Bacon, who creates and then dismantles his subjects. At the moment, I want to create finished objects and show them in all their complexity. It’s an attempt to express perfection.’
The Dutch-Croatian-Indonesian designer was born in 1975. Sebastian Brajkovic holds a keen interest in the divide between art and design, and exploring the border between the two has long fueled his practice. He graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2006 and burst onto the art-world scene with his project Lathe. He investigates the notion of perspective and distortion of form through his sculptural furniture pieces.
The Lathe series, expanded for his first solo show at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in 2008, reflects his longstanding fascination with rotation. The Lathe tables at once illustrate and innovate the idea of turned furniture. The spinning motion of a lathe both creates the table and decorates it. The rotation is visible in the table’s exaggerated profile and in the layers of concentric whorls on its surface. Through his in-depth exploration of the theoretical and the technical, Brajkovic creates an aesthetic balance of structure, freedom, and form. The Lathe chairs also employ woodcarving, bronze casting, and embroidery. Each work is sculpted by hand before being molded. At the same time, Brajkovic employs new digital techniques for sculpture, harnessing the power to expand pixels and distort images.
There is a disparity between the delicate look and substantial feel of his works. Often composed of bronze, they are too heavy to be lifted without mechanical assistance. As such, their archetypal function is subverted by their substance.