Both elegant and audacious, Frédéric Platéus’ work turns a charismatic balance of high art and pop culture into succinct and seductive design.
Platéus’ work has exquisite visual clarity. A self-taught artist, he aestheticises a wealth of his own interests, many of which are not overly familiar in the art world: motorsports, weapons and space travel, to name a few. From futuristic chaise longues to re-imagined Rubik’s cubes and voluptuous abstract forms, Platéus’ varied work is unified by its clean lines, lustrous textures and impeccable design. His signature “Anabolic Panels” are large rectangular reliefs that contain bulging PVC compositions. Carefully designed then cut from wood, stretched and sealed with heat onto custom-made PVC, the works have an immaculate finish that is slick and flawlessly balanced. Using high-gloss primary colours along with white, silver and the occasional neon, these works evoke a deconstructed car showroom, seating booth in a New York Diner, or an inflatable Mondrian.
Plateus’ Extravagant Traveler crystallises a nostalgic futuristic fantasy. Taking its name from a song by eccentric rapper Kool Keith, the portable plane-like vessel is made out of red and silver steel with perturbing bolts reminiscent of early Fledgling aircrafts of the 1920s. Screen printed across the work are various logos and graffiti tags that connote Formula 1 racing cars as much as a teenager’s messy, sticker-palimpsest of a bedroom. As if lifted from the set of Barbarella, Star Trek or Tank Girl, Extravagant Traveller is a work which merges aspirational histories that came before the current technological renaissance, providing a confidently vintage idea of the future. It is this relationship between nostalgia and futurism that is central to the work’s purposeful self-erosion: resting on a trailer instead of a plinth, Extravagant Traveler took mundane trips around the local area during its exhibition. As it blundered its way up the majestic and lavish staircase to Grand Hornu’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the work’s endearing obsolescence playfully interrogated our relationship to the futures of our past.
Through re-appropriating weaponry, Platéus punctures an archetypal boyish fantasy. Assembling guns as wall-reliefs of varying sizes and in keeping with his distinctive vinyl-wrap aesthetic, the works are magnificently brash. Smaller pieces from his solo exhibition, Panic Rev, such as MK5-160 and MK 5-70 present more ambiguous shapes that tend towards abstraction: either sci-fi sex toy or camp zombie-gun, the works feel distant from the viciousness of their materiality. While MK10-400 and MK10-360 are more clearly representational of the weapons that they depict, with almost comical up-scale and bright, eye-catching hues, they too do not carry the weight of real-world brutality. Instead of evoking symbols of violence, the works embody a pervasive, idealized yet playful fantasy associated with boyhood. However, through their childish cheekiness, the works are draped in deliberate irony that disrupts and undermines the archetypes that they draw from. Both enigmatic and instantly accessible, Platéus’ refreshing artistic vision brings gloss, humor and vintage futurism to the contemporary art world.