Collaborations are nothing new but Madrid-based artist Nikoleta Sekulovic’s partnership with contemporary furniture company Viaduct constitutes a meaningful meeting of art and design. Sekulovic is represented by London gallerist Rebecca Hossack, who brought about the unlikely pairing when the artist mentioned that she required a selection of chairs for a series of female nude paintings she was preparing. The gallerist approached Viaduct director James Mair, who admits that he instantly saw an opportunity to show design in a new context. “We are used to seeing empty chairs in stylised architectural settings but Rebecca was offering us the chance to embrace a new way of looking at them,” he says.
The Hypatia Collection comprises 11 intimate portraits of modern women in acrylics and graphite, which will go on show at Hossack’s Fitzrovia gallery from January 28 to February 22 (from £7,800 to £8,500). The simple, bold lines of the Viaduct chairs seen in the paintings represent both an extension of the sitter’s personality and a place in which she can be still and present – a central concept of the project. Sekulovic is the mother of two young daughters and her experience has led her to explore the idea of “mother as muse” in her work. “They are a source of inspiration that too often goes unnoticed,” she says. “It is unique and empowering to give them a moment to stand still in time as a muse, eternal on canvas.”
Sekulovic creates both a tension and a synergy within the work from the juxtaposition of naked figures and elegant designer forms. Anyte of Tegea (each of the women – all known to the artist – is named after an Ancient Greek female poet or philosopher) sits on the sharply angled Eugene lounge chair by German designer Stefan Diez. Nossis of Locri is shown with Naoto Fukasawa’s pared-back Hiroshima armchair, while Moero of Byzantium is depicted with the simple, sculptural TriAngle stool by Dutch artist Aldo Bakker. “Our furniture is a counterpoint to Nikoleta’s female protagonists,” Mair says. “Both are modern and timeless.”