Sensuality Is “Enthroned” in Jessica Silverman’s Women-Inspired Design Show

Lara Bohinc, Derriere Chair

Lara Bohinc, Derriere Chair
Jessica Silverman
Lara Bohinc, Derriere Chair
From the 'Derriere Chair' to 'Seduction,' These Pieces Cause a Lofty Stir

From the ‘Derriere Chair’ to ‘Seduction’ These Pieces Cause a Lofty Stir

Jessica Silverman

Anna Aagaard Jensen, Nicola, 2022. Polyurethane foam, styrofoam, triaxial fiber, acrylic resin, A1 adn MAC blush. 78 3/4 x 55 1/4 x 39 1/2 inches / 200 x 140.3 x 100.3 cm.

The ensemble brings us chairs, ottomans, side tables, bookshelves and lighting fixtures which embrace the convergence of art and utility.

 

With a travertine recliner, bulbous wool love-seats, and a sinuous blue mirror named Mr. Judgy, the design show “Enthroned” explores the various forms and modalities of the feminine. Jessica Silverman, of the eponymous San Francisco gallery, has teamed up with Friedman Benda’s Marc Benda to co-curate the exhibit. Placed on their rightful pedestal, the pieces in the exhibition, which challenge the dominant tropes of hyper-minimalism, are drawn from ten contemporary female designers. “Marc represents a lot of women,” Silverman shared with Art & Object. “That’s not always the case.”

Silverman and her wife, writer and sociologist Sarah Thornton, are personal collectors of woman-made art and design objects, filling their “over-the-top” home with color. Judy Chicago’s painting Study for Pasadena Lifesavers Yellow #3, hangs in the gallerist’s home. “Every morning, when I wake up and walk into my living room, this beautiful drawing by Judy greets me,” she told Art Basel a few years back. Today, in reference to her own white-cube gallery space, Silverman told us that art can look great in both places. "Architecture is an important thing to enjoy, but to have it disappear is a hard thing to do. Some things can confuse sensitive gestures.”

The pieces in the exhibition not only partake in a dialogue with function, but contrast with one another along a spectrum of the sculptural. "Enthroned" features pieces like Lara Bohinc’s Derriere Chair (2023) along with pieces from Najla El Zein’s Seduction series (2018). Bohinc, who was inspired by mid-century Italian upholstery, transitioned into the world of furniture after a decade of design consulting for Cartier. El Zein takes a more sleek approach, frequently using Italian limestone as her choice of material. In 2022, the Qatar Museum commissioned two public works by El Zein, one of which, Us, Her, Him, features a winding cylindrical bench over 1,000 feet long, and represents human connection.

The ensemble brings us chairs, ottomans, side tables, bookshelves and lighting fixtures which embrace the convergence of art and utility. Pieces by established names like 2024 Charlotte Perriand Award winner Frida Escobedo, Joanna Grawunder, and Faye Toogood, commingle with work by emerging talents such as ibiyanε, standing in harmony despite holding space in different aesthetic fields.

The Lithuanian Barbora Žilinskaitė is the youngest artist of the group. Born in 1996, her work, “blurs the boundaries between the animate and inanimate,” as one finds familiar parts of the body reflected in her pieces. This invites the viewer to push beyond a passive relationship with the object encountered and strives to “momentarily pause logic, unlock the invisible, and explore the unknown within our daily lives.”

The only flowerpot in the mix, Savage Planter, comes from Jay Sae Jung Oh, often opting for recycled plastic and leather. Represented by Salon 94 in New York City, some of her pieces have been acquired by the collections of SFMoMA, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and Cranbrook Art Museum.

Installation view of the exhibition 'Enthroned' at Jessica Silverman.
Jessica Silverman

Installation view of the exhibition 'Enthroned' at Jessica Silverman.

Barbora Žilinskaitė, Mr. Judgy
Jessica Silverman

Barbora Žilinskaitė, Mr. Judgy, 2023. Wood dust, pay, pigment, varnish, glue, mirror
45 3/4 x 35 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches / 116.2 x 90.2 x 12.1 cm.

Najla El Zein, Seduction, m (Prototype)
Jessica Silverman

Najla El Zein, Seduction, m (Prototype), 2018. Italian travertine. 21 x 35 x 14 1/4 inches / 88.9 x 36.2 cm.

Lara Bohinc, Derriere Chair
Jessica Silverman

Lara Bohinc, Derriere Chair, 2023. Wool upholstery. 40 x 30 1/4 x 35 inches / 101.6 x 77 x 88.9 cm

Silverman herself grew up next to The Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where Saarinen furniture was casually used throughout the classrooms, and according to Silverman, “it’s impossible to reduce aesthetics from utility [...] it’s a dealer’s whole life to be curated through that lens.”   

Another highlight from the show is Anna Aagaard Jensen’s six foot Nicola (2022). The chest of drawers (quite literally), is made from a combination of polyurethane foam, styrofoam, and acrylic resin and is a seeming tribute to the human-like Gold Femme Commode of design great Nicola L. The powdery pink vessel wearing dress shoes is the product of an artist/designer who unapologetically places the female body front and center. A previous collection of chairs was named “A Basic Instinct” in homage to Sharon Stone, infamously crossing and uncrossing her legs in Paul Verhoeven’s 1992 erotic thriller by the same name. Since the artist's debut in 2018, she has begun teaching at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy of Art & Design in Amsterdam.

When asked if there was a single source of inspiration for the show, Silverman, who founded her gallery in 2008, demurred. "It was less about one person," she said, "and more about a show dedicated to women.”

“Enthroned,” is on view at Jessica Silverman, 621 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, California, through March 2, 2024.

About the Author

Carlota Gamboa

Carlota Gamboa is an art writer based in Los Angeles.

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