Peter Marino: Fire and Water at Gagosian Gallery, London 

Peter Marino’s exhibition ‘Fire and Water’ at the Gagosian Gallery is incredibly interesting, showcasing this renowned American architect’s limited edition designs of metal boxes alongside works from famous artists.

Marino himself is an avid collector of bronze objects and has many Renaissance works in possession, as well as bronze works from France and Italy. Marino began working with bronze when he learned of a boat that sank in 350 BC off the Turkish Coast en route from Greece to Italy. Original bronze works were recovered from the ancient wreck and Marino was captivated by the idea that materials in art that could outlast entire civilisations. Thus, he began to work with bronze, creating items such as the stunning boxes shown in this exhibition. 

The boxes shown in ‘Fire and Water’ have different designs on them that are inspired by mythical and organic forms, such as dragon scales, rough stones, and water. Each box is perfectly handcrafted and is an example of the architect’s devoted dedication to thorough perfection.

The bronze boxes come in finishes of gold, silver, and black. The single block colours and material used for each box gives them each their own unique beauty and yet the different colours compliment each other and create a sense of unity as they are displayed together. 

Various pieces of artwork and sculptures from famous artists such as Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso are displayed upon and above the boxes, thus presenting these beautifully crafted pieces of design in the same sphere of highly collectible work from leading artistic figures. Of course, Marino is one of the most famous, respected and influential architects of our time and his work is perfectly suited to sharing space with modern masters. Also, as many the works on display have outlived their creators, they echo the underlying concept behind Marino’s chosen medium. 

One of the most interesting pieces of art resting on top of one of Marino’s boxes, is Damien Hirst’s sculpture, ‘ Fear of Death’, which is a human skull made from deceased flies. This piece is incredibly dramatic; unapologetically carrying a message of death and dying.  It is a counter-move against what Marino aspired to achieve through the creation of his boxes of bronze; durable, everlasting art.  ‘Fear of Death’ contrasts beautifully with this notion: a piece of art made from death and decay, being displayed upon a piece of art striving for the realms of the imperishable and immortality. 

This exhibition brings the words of the ancient Roman poet Odes to mind, “aere perennius,” which means “more lasting than bronze.”  Indeed, whether the works are about death or immortality, this exhibition is a testament to the durability of art.

‘Fire and Water’ by Peter Marino is on at Gagosian Gallery until 8th September 2017.  Find more information here.