Tiki, Tatts and Skulls. Lionel Scoccimaro’s Go Big Or Go Home.

Lionel Scoccimaro Go Big or Go Home

The talented contemporary artist and photographer Lionel Scoccimaro had an exhibit titled Go Big Or Go Home earlier this year at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery. If you missed it, don’t fret, I’m bringing it to you here.

Lionel Scoccimaro Go Big or Go Home
Lionel Scoccimaro Go Big or Go Home

from the gallery press release:
Go Big or Go Home is a phrase urging extravagance with an all or nothing response, indicating a desire to live life to the fullest. Here it showcases Scoccimaro’s appropriation of kitsch and popular culture, melding them with fine art techniques. The glossy, surface details and oversized objects may be perceived as whimsical or playful touches but allude to darker realities and offer unsettling social commentary. Whilst the works can initially be interpreted as a series of representations and coded imagery – human skulls, decorative medieval lances, over-sized jars – on deeper reflection, they are more polysemic in nature.

With visual references and material techniques associated with biker/surf culture, the work alludes to exotic Tiki imagery and neo-Voodoo culture, which were prominent elements in the American surf scene of the 1950s and 60s. But the laid-back lifestyle intimated by adopting this imagery reminds viewers of the appropriation and destruction of culture— humanoid Tiki figures have been worn away to skulls and stylized flames consume customs. It is this multi – layering of messages that makes Scoccimaro’s work so appealing, instantly absorbing and divisive.

Scoccimaro purposefully adopts a diminutive role in his attack on the norms of High Art with a visual language of codified adult – gameplaying. It is at this junction, a symbiosis of diverse popular traditions, that easy categorization of his works is disabled. His works reach back to his sentimental nostalgia of a by-gone era of counter-cultures that have been diluted by globalization and ready-accessibility.

His Horizontal Rack features gleaming aluminum skulls peering down at the audience with sinister intent and ominous allusions.

lionel scoccimaro furnishings
Horizontal Rack, 2009 / H 160 L 220 W 35 cm / Beech and aluminum
Horizontal Rack (detail), Beech and aluminium
Horizontal Rack (detail), Beech and aluminium

The Horizontal Rack suggests a well-stocked medieval arsenal with pole arms or seemingly innocuous quarterstaffs. Elaborately carved and individually mounted, the sticks calls to mind a gruesome Baroque collection or a Victorian cabinet of medical curiosities based on the desire to classify human life and death, forcing them into grotesque spectacles for prurient curiosity. It also evokes the legend of a Haitian Voodoo implement, the coco macaque or sorcerer’s stick, which has the power to move on its own and complete sinister errands for its master.

Removed from the rack, the poles place users in the bizarre position of holding skulls, putting them in intimate contact with beautifully manufactured death and decay.

Small Jar, a curvaceous pot with five tall sticks jutting from its aperture, is theatrical in its presence and imbued with irony. This sculptural piece hints at an abstract view of ‘flowers in a vase’ yet with a more provocative and menacing intention.

Small Jar, 2009

The decorative poles appear like weapons waiting to be plucked for use while warped in reflection on the glossy surface of the jar, the protruding sticks appear like vertebrae.

scoccimaro small jar
Small Jar, 2009 / H 130 L 85 W 85 cm / Beech, aluminium, car paint and varnish

The demand of Scoccimaro to fulfil his role as sculptor coupled with formal efficacy leads him to articulate a discussion of materials and size-scales in his work. Scoccimaro’s work plays with these appropriations, using contemporary society’s interest in clever, self-referential irony and post-modernism to hint at how the darker elements of our past can catch up with us in the present. He offers us provoking insights wrapped in glossy, playful packages of pop-age veneers.

The stunningly smooth and conical Customised Soliflor dominates over people who enter its space. As tall as an average person, it is not merely a decorative object but a presence in its own right. The red flame motif, borrowed from customised vehicles and universe of skating, surfing and biking, heightens the theatricality of the piece and questions the preciousness associated with gallery objects.

art for the home
Customised Soliflor 2009 / H230 L110 W110cm / Resin, aluminium, car paint and varnish
gothic home accessories
White Jar, 2009, H 185 L 120 W 120 cm, Resin, beech, aluminium, car paint and varnish
Lionel Scoccimaro skulls
White Jar (detail), 2009
Vertical Rack, 2009
Vertical Rack, 2009, H185 L85 W45cm, Beech and aluminium
skull topped canes
BJ&SS n°3, 2007, H 190 L 95 W 95 cm, Crystal resin, varnish, cast aluminum and beech
scoccimaro neon go big or go home
Go Big or Go Home, 2009, W 80 cm, Neon tube light, plexiglass
elvis is my copilot neon
elvis is my copilot, 2009, W 80 cm, Neon tube light, plexiglass

About Lionel Scoccimaro
Marseille – based sculptor, surfer and biker Lionel Scoccimaro explores the ways in which globalisation brings the margins from what was once counterculture—surfing, skateboarding, motorcycling — to the centre. The iconoclasts who break with cherished values and traditions have become the style icons, the people society aspires to emulate. His work bridges the gap between ‘low culture’ and the high art world. Scoccimaro was singled out during FIAC in Paris for his series of giant ‘Toppling Toys’ decorated with symbols of American counterculture. Since 2001 his work has commented upon and manipulated social expectations through the medium of photography and sculpture. Scoccimaro’s sculptural and photographic works have been exhibited at Ecole Supérieure des Arts et de la Communication in Pau, Chapelle Saint Jacques in St-Gaudens, the VF gallery in Marseille, Roger Pailhas Gallery in Marseille, Stedelijk musuem Aalst in Belgium and Fabrice Marcolini gallery in Toronto

About the Carpenters Workshop Gallery:
Carpenters Workshop Gallery extends the boundaries of design by uniting and transcending the contested categories of conceptual/functional and design/art in thought – provoking exhibitions.

The gallery presents established artists such as Marc Quinn, Atelier van Lieshout, Ron Arad, Wendell Castle, Maarten Baas, Ingrid Donat and encourages the talent of an up-and-coming generation: Sebastian Brajkovic, Robert Stadler, Pablo Reinoso, Demakersvan, Xavier Lust, Vincent Dubourg and Mathieu Lehanneur. Based in Mayfair at 3 Albemarle

information and images courtesy of the Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Carpenters Workshop Gallery