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Marcin Rusak’s Inflorescence and Other Artefacts

It may seem daring to open an exhibition on the eve of the annual design carnival that is graduate show season in London but Marcin Rusak doesn’t have to worry about a lack of attention. It was a big year for the London-based designer, who kicked off his artistic career with exhibiting at the Victoria and Albert museum and securing the coveted Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize for emerging talent within just a year of graduating from the RCA last year. His first solo show, “Inflorescence and Other Artefacts,” is a display of dichotomies, constantly flipping between natural and synthetic, authentic and fake, beautiful and seductively grotesque, forcing viewers to form their own opinion about the value of the objects on display.

The cleverly constructed narrative of the show centers on our relationship with modern commodities and is an extension of “Flowering Transition,” Rusak’s Masters project at the RCA. Works from that series question the lifetime of products, featuring everything from a range of vases cast from a mix of waste flowers, beeswax, and various organic binders to large-scale textiles printed with natural flower pigments. The twist in Rusak’s creations is that they are not made to last — the vases grow over with fungus and eventually perish; the pollen prints fade and gradually disappear. Another highlight of the show are Rusak’s “Flower Monster” pieces, 3-D printed mutant sculptures that speculate about the future of engineered nature, both captivating and grotesque in their hypernatural beauty. Also on display are botanical drawings etched in chromed copper plates, a series of Intaglio prints, and fragrance samples that come together to form a multi-faceted critique of the society looking at nature as a commodity. If you’re in London this week, head to the Contemporary Applied Arts for a lesson on how to graduate well and leave everyone wanting more.

“Inflorescence and Other Artefacts” will be on view until August 1 at the Contemporary Applied Arts.

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