Master of Brutality is a group exhibition of experimental objects curated by Jean-Michel Gadoua and New Studio. Inaugurated by two subsequent shows in Williamsburg and Montreal, the exhibition celebrates raw materials and spontaneous gestures as an antidote to impersonal manufacturing.
The essentially-hidden entrance of New Studio leads to a massive drop in the floor, revealing a concrete and brick walled space with impressive 40 foot ceilings. For the Master of Brutality exhibition in Williamsburg, the space itself becomes one with the curatorial work of Jean-Michel Gadoua, head of 8888.
Master of Brutality in NYC – Captured by Jean-Michel Gadoua
Rather than the typical design exhibition layout which spaces pieces apart to allow for maximum viewing, all the objects have been piled atop each other in the middle of the room. Each work transforms into part of a synergetic monster of stoneware, steel, cement; increasing the severity of the brutalist exhibition.
Master of Brutality in NYC – Captured by Chloe Latour
“The studio isn’t necessarily wide but there are 40-foot ceilings. We worked with that shape, creating the installation so the space became part of the experience,” said Gadoua of his creation. “It’s also really inline with 8888’s mission. We’re against doing anything too sleek or well-thought out, so making the decision to just pile everything on top of each other felt like jumping into the void”
The structure rises high above the crowd, with Gadoua’s own Phantom Hall Chair sitting on top, accompanied by New Studio’s Zero Guns Vase. At the base rests Cal Summers’ impressive steel Ovoid Table and Megan Morisette’s Zebra Table, its textured wooden material standing in stark contrast to the rest of the otherwise tonal exhibition. “Megan’s table was definitely a statement piece,” echoes Gadoua.
Surrounding the pile are pieces by Subject Bureau, Olivier Bonnard, Simon Johns, Wawa Li, Simon Petepiece, David Raymond, and Edith Sevigny-Martel. Will Choui’s Squarehead Mirror stands tall at the front of the heap, its surface creating a disjointed reflection of onlookers that subverts the hyper-instagrammable art of the 2010s. The assemblage strengthens Gadoua’s concept, quite literally embodying the ‘rejection of priorities’ described in the exhibition text.
The show brought an old school punk factor with it that, as remarked by a party-goer, hasn’t been seen in the New York Design scene in quite some time. A hybrid of industry heavy-hitters, New York fashion kids, emerging designers and industry bystanders mingle and clamor for a look at this central structure.
Despite its success in New York, “the pile” does not appear in the Montreal leg of Master of Brutality. Once again playing with the exhibition space — this time Montreal’s WIP Works gallery — the works are bunched together; a splayed monster creeping out at viewers from the far corner of the room. Featured designer David Raymond’s Cement Stools act as protruding legs, bringing the construction to life.
Master of Brutality in Montreal – Captured by Jean-Michel Gadoua
“Since the works are all a little rough around the edges, they create this great organic shape that looks like a monster from a bird’s eye view. We asked David to bring more stools because we wanted to play with the idea of tentacles. His pieces also really stood out to us because people were constantly intrigued by their construction. Looking at them, it’s hard to know exactly what they are, whether they’re hard or soft, etc. Telling people that these objects were made of cement and that they could sit on them was really fantastic.”
Master of Brutality in Montreal – Captured by Chloe Latour on Film
Master of Brutality successfully embodies 8888’s ethos, which celebrates spontaneous gestures and subverting expectations. Even the shows’ successes are unexpected to Gadoua. “What really excited us is that we didn’t know what we were going to do and how things were going to turn out. It reminded me of my days as a punk musician where my band and I would go on stage and just improvise. Not being sure how people would react made it fun, but we were lucky because people really loved it all.”
Both shows have concluded, but all pieces are available through the featured artists’ personal websites and Instagram pages.
Ovoid Table by Cal Summers
Cement Stool by David Raymond
Edith Sevigny-MartelPhantom Hall Chair by Jean-Michel Gadoua
Megan Meredith MorrissetteZero Guns Vase by New StudioDrywall Chair by Simon PetepieceFuture Fossils Occasional Chair by Simon JohnsFive-Offerings by Subject BureauxWawa Li & Olivier BonnardWill Choui
Chloe Latour is a writer and creative consultant based in Montreal. Integrating a fascination with design, fashion, and contemporary art, her work draws on both past learnings and current culture.