Rue du Canal

© Courtesy of Ken Sortais, Rhys Lee and cadet capela
© Credits photo: Thomas Marroni

Ken Sortais

November 28 — December 14, 2019

Rue Saint Claude, Paris, FR

Through his multifaceted practice Ken Sortais has been creating diverse types of work, often focusing on the relationship between creation, subversion, and the loss of identity. Working with a variety of mediums and techniques, from drawings over paintings to videos, sculptures, and installation, illegality is regularly imbued as an everpresent component of the creative process. Transcended from his illegal graffiti experience, this important aspect of the work brings the performative and theatrical side to his methodology, a point from which the technical manipulation and experimentation begins. 

For his debut showcase with cadet capela, Sortais prepared a series of new pieces from his ongoing Sculpt’air series along with a selection of black and white drawings, related to them. In line with his efforts to make analogies between the myths and their representations in the public space, these works successfully bridge historic sequences, allowing the intertwining of surreal, borderline abstract fantasies and traditional aesthetics. The inflatable or foam-filled sculptures are made from illegal imprints made on real 19th century statues hidden in abandoned and/or forgotten places. The latex mold is then turned inside out and inflated with air or foam, making the new piece as a negative image of the initial sculpture. The filling phase of the expansive casts accentuates the deformations and disfigurations of the original which sometimes can drift to abstraction. These anomalies are further intensified by the raw surface, which is adding to the grotesque appearance of certain shapes, suggests the mark of time, while contributing to the organic and evolving dimension of the work. 

Able to play with scale, from traditional busts to human size sculpture of Egyptian models, Sortais is keeping the memories of the original objects while giving them a new appearance. Both beautiful and monstrous, dignified and grotesque, their smooth and bouncy bodies are in strong contradiction with their grimacing, over-expressive faces. Through a unique process that mentions breakage and pillaging of monuments, mutation of the sampled material, technical experimentation, and deformation, he is both confronting and hijacking the symbolic forms he attributed to the existing formats. By replacing the monumental and stoic impression of the original with an unconfined and absurd appearance of its bloated copy, Sortais questions the representation of the forms that surround us through gestures of diversion and manipulation, effortlessly switching between reality and illusion.

Sasha Bogojev