Adjectives not normally used when describing furniture. But these are exactly the words one could use to describe the works of Canadian furniture maker, Gord Peteran, Professor at OCAD, whose works are on view at the Long Beach Museum of Art from April 11 through September 7, 2008.
Gord Peteran: Furniture Meets Its Maker, is a thoughtprovoking exhibition of 34 psychologically compelling pieces of, you guessed it, furniture.
It is furniture unlike any other. A table that doesn't hold objects, chairs not made for sitting, objects that appear to function as torture devices or for the sexually experimental. Despite the dubious functionality of many of the pieces in the exhibition, one can recognize, using Peteran’s word, the “furnitural” quality of the object. The accompanying exhibition catalog expresses it this way, “at Peteran’s
hands furniture dies a fascinating death, without ever quite going away.”
Death is a common, if subtle, undercurrent in many of his works. 100 is a pair of precisely machined tables, one of which disassembles into a carrying case like that used for a rifle. Ark has the qualities of both a confessional booth and an electric
chair. Untitled So Far appears as a shrouded or mummified corpse.
As if to balance the seriousness that permeates so much of his work, other pieces display an disarming sense of playfulness or whimsy, like A Little Table, a single joint that is, as Peteran puts it, “just approaching” being a table, or Musical Box (Glen
Gould Prize) a contraption that according to Peteran, “makes seven stupid sounds, all different.”
In all cases, Peteran's work pays homage to the traditional role of furniture while at the same time standing it on its head.