Caruso St John: Diorama
19 January — 25 February 2017
Betts Project is pleased to present 'Diorama', an exhibition of British architects Caruso St John.
‘The models, and the photographs of the models are a way of getting closer and closer to an image that is already in our minds, it is about articulating all of the qualities in that image. I like the fact that in a competition one can try to communicate the concept and the atmosphere of a project in one or two such images. I would say that the preoccupation in the office is not the production of models, but of finding the image of a project.’ – Adam Caruso, OASE 84 (2011).
The exhibition presents a selection of models for competitions as well as the model of their recent Stirling Prize winner project, the Newport Street Gallery. The 1:50 models in pastel colours belong to buildings the architects worked on during the last few years. Their focus lies on the exterior: The façades are flat, windows and doors are marked by coloured surfaces. Because of these details, the models have a strong pictorial quality, while at the same time their spatial dimension is underlined by thick layers of paint. Exhibited together on a large table, the models show a kind of imaginary Caruso St John-city. In Adam Caruso’s words: ‘The buildings that are represented in the models are very different, but we have used only five colours to represent all of their details. This serves to bring together their diverse forms and scales.’
The photographs on the wall offer insights into the interior of models Caruso St John have been making for the last 25 years. Thus they remind of the dioramas of the 19th century, three-dimensional models that show a situation in a way that looks real. Adam Caruso describes the nature of the model photographs as follows: «They show a world where the atmosphere of our buildings are explicitly evoked at the same time as being uncanny as to the actual size and material of the models, models that have been only made to produce these images.»
In 1990 Peter St John and Adam Caruso established the practice Caruso St John. The two are interested in the emotional potential and physical qualities of construction. Art related projects by the practice include the New Art Gallery in Walsall, the Nottingham Contemporary Museum, various Gagosian Galleries, the reorganisation of Tate Britain and the Newport Street Gallery. For the latter Caruso St John won the renowned Stirling Prize in 2016. The interest of Caruso St John in art not only led to the building of museums but also to the designing of several exhibitions such as the show ‘Defining Beauty’ at the British Museum (2014–2015). The practice is based in London and in Zurich.
Exhibitions include the Gallery of Contemporary Art in České Budějovice (2016); the Venice Biennale (2012, 2004); Arkitekturmuseet in Stockholm (2010); gta Ausstellungen, ETH Zürich (2009); Department of Architecture and Spatial Design, London Metropolitan University (2008); The British School at Rome (2007); Architectural Association Gallery, London (2005); Architecture Foundation, London (2001, 1994, 1992).
Caruso St John, Another Glass House 1991, photograph, 2017, 16.8 x 21 cm, edition of 7, signed and numbered on back
Caruso St John, Chichester Museum 2006, photograph, 2017, 16.8 x 21 cm, edition of 7, signed and numbered on back