Their innate talent and creativity was spotted by Kuwaiti architect Haitham Al-Ghunaim during a visit to the States, and last month’s show at Kuwait’s Sultan Gallery, curated by Al -Ghunaim, comes a year after their first visit to Kuwait. For a show so long in the planning it proved, ultimately, to be somewhat of a disappointment since it offered merely a tantalizing suggestion of the vision of Aziz + Cucher.
Whilst it is easy to get the partners to label themselves first and foremost as ‘artists’, it was not immediately apparent to viewers that they were anything other than interior designers. Hereby appears the first conundrum to present itself in the true appreciation of their work.
It is the aim of Aziz + Cucher to offer the possibility of not just ‘Living with Art’, but to go further with what is the daring suggestion of ‘Living in Art’. Sounds pretentious? Of course it does. But in their eyes it is also eminently possible and ultimately realistic.
What they produce today comes from eighteen years of working collaboratively. Having worked together so closely, for so long, it is difficult to see the line where Aziz finishes and Cucher begins. In fact they speak with one voice, seamlessly completing sentences the other started. “We both have an infatuation with science, the human form, looking at these as if we were through the eyes of a scientist, as well as an artist”.
“We have brought all these influences together in a way which is really quite conceptually driven”.
Essentially what they did for the show, was to produce traditional elements - carpets, wallpaper - but in a completely none traditional way.
It is a brave Westerner who brings carpets to Arabia, but through their bold approach and the use of new technology at the design phase they have created pieces that had only before existed in the designer’s, or artist›s, mind. Pleasingly enough, despite their 21st century approach to creativity, the carpets were woven by hand in Nepal.
“This rug in particular,” the one in the photograph, “was created to be a perfect marriage between a traditional rug and a modern furnishing”. The design’s genesis was a field of wildflowers. A photograph taken of the field was abstracted and pushed to become something very different from what originally presented itself to Aziz + Cucher. “We used this same abstract in the designs of the wallpaper and the glass. Much of what you see here today comes from that same photograph”.
Although they have experience in performance art, cinema, and photography, neither of them have a background in what we might call ‘traditional arts’. This enables their minds to roam unfettered by perceived rules which may hold others back.
What of the idea of living ‘in’ rather than ‘with’ art? It turns out to be not as pretentious as you might think. “Everything around us is an art form”, they feel. Indeed, where produced by Aziz + Cucher, indeed it is. The wallpaper is exquisite and made by hand. It is created not just to be wallpaper, but to be an artwork that you hang on the wall. In this case, all over the wall. The carpet was hand-knotted from silk and wool.
Other pieces they have created, as art, include table-tops and lamps. These everyday objects that you and I may take for granted, but which invigorate Aziz + Cucher, are what they choose to see as the starting points for an exploration, and are the basis for their notion of living ‘in’ art.
I, for sure, would prefer to engage an interior designer who believes he is an artist, rather than an artist who believes he can also interior design. In Aziz + Cucher, I think I may very possibly have found my men.
First published in Men's Passion issue #10 February 09