In the world of Charlotte Kingsnorth, lamps squawk, end tables bare their teeth and chairs disappear under benign tumors. A new exhibition, “Animalistic Tendencies,” which opens May 4 at Objective Gallery in New York City, will highlight Charlotte’s dialogue between the grotesque and the divine.
Charlotte has shown at Objective Gallery before, this is her first solo exhibition. Last year, Objective commissioned 10 chairs that became the “hi!breed” series, salvaged wooden furniture that Charlotte abstracted with bold, playful upholstery. “Puff around Mundus” took a classic bistro chair and gave it bulbous lips with the addition of bright blue puffer upholstery. It suffocates its frame and holds the seat with a sturdy, studded strap. The puffer, inflated like a punching bag, looks like a boxer that has her opponent locked.
The mutant forms don’t immediately read as functional, but because Charlotte grafts the animalistic features onto traditional furniture framework, they are usable and interactive. The globular cushions on “My Big Fat Sofa,” which expose part of the headdrest, encourage one to strip their clothes and recline like a Rubenesque figure, blending right into the fleshy upholstery if they have a matching complexion.
For “Animalistic Tendencies,” Charlotte is pairing these familiar pieces with brand new creations that dive deeper into her explorations of anthropomorphic furniture. She exits the realm of the humanoid to craft chimeras, enchanting figures with talon-like bases and spidery armrests. Their fearsome forms are softened by their textures, which are often fuzzy, velvety or suede. An object like “Birds Eye Dressing Table Chair,” which initially looks stony and harsh, is actually an inviting pillow of silk. It has a round backrest, like a bassinet, and elephantine legs that buckle at different angles. Its exposed seams, which run across the piece like stitches, partner well with its sturdy companion, the “Birds Eye Dressing Table.” It has an irregularly cut mirror, suggestive of a tilted head. It’s a mothering pachyderm listening to its child—the chair—and waits to comfort the person who melds with its kin and gazes into its glossy finish.
Charlotte also plays with tension between hard and soft with her stitched urn series. The bulbous, bumpy vessels appear like soft foam, but are in fact made from stoneware. “Stitched urn II” is especially inviting in its vibrant marigold shade of orange accented with perrywinkle speckles. The color deepens when the velvet underglaze pools into folds and crevices of its rounded vertebrae, delicate forms achieved through slip casting.
The urn also has an inquisitive personality, With slumped posture, it tips to one side, studying the viewer, eager to learn about the world. Its twin, “stitched urn II,” on the other hand, is haughtier and turns up its lips. Though they’re made from the same mold, Charlotte brings out different personalities through careful choice in glazing. “Small Nickel Urn,” with its shine and dark surface, embodies a more spoiled persona.
Charlotte’s menagerie will be roaming through Objective Gallery through June 30. Pet a lamp or tickle a cushion, or consider adopting a chair and let it burrow into your home.