“I like big butts,” declares Mia Fonssagrives-Solow, grabbing the rump of a large mammalian plywood sculpture at Manhattan’s Higher East Aspect Galerie Dumonteil. She is getting ready for her new exhibition, “Bright Wild Things,” which opened on March eight (earlier than it travels to Paris and Shanghai), however this specific piece has lived an extended life previous to its glory days within the gallery, as soon as serving as an in-house jungle gymnasium for her now 40-something son of their East Hampton barn. “If you want to climb on it, please do!” she says. Not like nearly all different artwork, Fonssagrives-Solow’s is for touching. “It’s like that previous SNL skit that spoofed the Bop It toy,” she says, cheerily. “Contact it, really feel it, bump it up!”
If citing a late-night community TV comedy sketch in an Higher East Aspect gallery feels considerably incongruous, let’s simply say that Fonssagrives-Solow appreciates a high-low aesthetic. Born to the Swedish style mannequin Lisa Fonssagrives and the artist-cum-photographer Fernand Fonssagrives, and raised partially by her stepfather, the Vogue photographer Irving Penn, she grew up with an inherent love for all artistic pursuits, and is thought, in her personal inventive profession, maybe most for her life-size sculptures, and what she calls her “beads”—huge, spherical, out of doors set up items with punctured holes that body the pure settings earlier than them. She touts a type of snug glamour: Her early profession in style started within the 1960s, when she secured a fellowship from Parsons by promoting knit attire for $30 every. She and her then-business associate, Vicky Tiel, created knit sizzling pants, wrap attire, floppy hats, and labored as costume designers on Woody Allen’s first movie, What’s New, Pussycat?, through which their zippered jumpsuit debuted on Ursula Andress. It later grew to become a best-seller at their Paris boutique. (Barbra Streisand purchased two, in purple and navy leather-based.) “To come up with that idea, and to build a business out of something unusual in a totally foreign city—oh, it was heaven!” Fonssagrives-Solow remembers.
“Bright Wild Things,” in distinction, is one thing very totally different, and whereas the plywood sculpture is an anomaly as compared with the remainder of the present, it precisely captures its sense of play. Throughout the gallery, on the ground and on small cabinets, stands a fantastical household of animals, robots, and mythological creatures solid from extremely polished bronze and aluminum. Assembled from recycled dwelling objects like milk cartons and Fiji water bottles—what Fonssagrives-Solow calls “great trash”—earlier than being solid in metallic, the critters are rigorously accented by particulars that denote lighthearted humor: a completely upright tail; oversize, floppy ears; and arms taking pictures up from some animals’ little our bodies like they’re doing the wave. One group of rabbity figures, who’ve their very own area towards the again of the gallery, are portraits of Fonssagrives-Solow’s grandchildren, she explains. The actual-life inspirations, a lot to her delight, have all been capable of establish who’s who.
Turning her relations into sculptures is outwardly a behavior for Fonssagrives-Solow, who briskly walks over to a big aluminum creature that resembles, vaguely, a rhinoceros; his head is turned upward, his mouth opened to a type of silent scream, arms flailing out to the facet. “This is my son,” she pronounces. “He was behaving very badly a few years ago and we had a big fight. When I got home, I made him into a minotaur and got all the anger out. It went into this little guy.”
All through the room, there are extra minotaurs (presumably with their very own particular person backstories): pigs, a hen with a stomach made out of a basketball, meerkats, and robots, amongst different figures. “I think we’re in the Hellenic period of robots right now,” says the artist, who grew up loving Frank Herbert’s 1950s sci-fi novel, Dune, and previous Hollywood movies like Tin Males, each early stabs at imagining the way forward for synthetic intelligence. “Mine are totally dysfunctional; they do nothing. But I love fantasy and humor, and, to me, robots bring the two together. I love a good fembot, too. I’m working on a series of fembot paintings right now, actually. They’re wild.”
The impulse to construct one thing from nothing continues to be her driving pressure. “When I go to sleep at night, I roll over and say, for example, ‘I’m going to think about fembot paintings,’ and then my brain just travels into this realm of ideas,” she says. “Sometimes the ideas stick around and I act on them, and sometimes I lose them, but I always wake up thinking that I’ve been on a trip. If I can translate them into something I can hold, that’s wonderful and there’s no feeling like it, at the end of the day.”
Whereas Fonssagrives-Solow is a passionate environmentalist (one in every of her sculptures, depicting a chook with clipped wings, is her homage to this), she affords no political takeaway with this present. She stresses once more, nevertheless, her love of Saturday Night time Stay, and hopes that, above all, viewers respect the humor in her animals, and look to her work for a type of escapist expertise. “I think humor is very important right now and we need more if it,” she says.
Most of all, although, she is hoping to safe the affections of a sure coveted viewers. “I’ve invited every parent I know with kids,” she says. “Oh, I do hope kids come! That would just be wonderful. They’re the ones you’ve really got to impress.”