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New site-specific commission by Nicolas Deshayes in Battersea Park
Nicolas Deshayes at the Pleasure Gardens, installation view, 2018. Courtesy the artist and Pump House Gallery. Photo: Eoin Carey.

LONDON.- Pump House Gallery is presenting Nicolas Deshayes’ first exhibition of outdoor sculpture, a new site-specific work in Battersea Park. Combining fleshly form with urban infrastructure the work has developed Deshayes’ interest in bodies of water, taking the fountains of Battersea Park’s Pleasure Gardens and the nearby River Thames as his starting points.

Deshayes uses industrial materials and processes to create bulbous and suggestive bodily forms. Reminiscent of organic substances that are squeezed from cracks and crevices, the works also reference the waste that litters our cities as it mingles with drains, pipes, and other urban facilities. Battersea Park acts as a conduit for these encounters, where the lives of people, trees and animals meet the management of nature on the edge of the river artery. Deshayes’ work has dealt with the skin of things, but now looks at the more substantial body of objects. He works with forms that defy their material existence to encourage links between how we as humans have constructed our surroundings. He is interested in how objects are connected to produce a living metropolis and how this is reflected in our own malleable existence.

For the installation Deshayes has developed his ongoing series of sculptures in expanding foam. A material most commonly used for buoyancy in shipbuilding, he uses it to create forms that hint at anatomy or plumbing systems. Here, they are cast in marine-grade aluminium, nodding to the functional and ornamental ironmongery of the river and Albert Bridge, camel-shaped benches, dolphin lamps and mooring chains. These cast aluminium forms stand and hover on the water of the Pleasure Gardens’ two mirror pools, disrupting the traditional spectacle of the fountain as they draw water up and sputter, spit and dribble it back from where it came.

As part of Art Night 2018, artist Adam Christensen will perform in response to the installation on Saturday 7 July at dusk.

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