In the beginning was an oil painting, 130 x 81 cm. (51 x 32 in.), titled You Win Some, You Lose Some, one of a series of abstract pictures by Heidi Wood. Variable in size, all the paintings in the series had bright, contrasting colors, abstract motifs, and were done on furnishing fabrics. That material governed their fate, in a way, because these same paintings were then incorporated, like a piece of furniture, into decorative interiors that Wood arranged and photographed. Hung on a blue wall, You Win some, You Lose Some thus becomes part of a composition that includes a Jielde lamp designed by Jean-Louis Domecq around 1950 and a chaise lounge designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand in 1928. The floor is yellow, while the wall on the right is red. In another instance, You Win Some, You Lose Some was shown only with the Domecq lamp set on a black-and-white checkerboard floor. This approach describes Wood’s entire Serving Suggestions series: one or two paintings are combined with a few chairs, armchair, or lamp designed in the twentieth century (sometimes accompanied by a plant, a low table, or standing ashtray), all set against brightly colored grounds.
In addition to the allusion to Le Corbusier’s color scheme in the photographed environment (blue, red, and yellow), it is impossible to overlook the similarity between the Serving Suggestions in general and the images used by the Salubra firm to promote the range of wallpapers designed by Le Corbusier, as seen in pictures reproduced in his 1959 book and in advertising that appeared upon its publication and afterward. A 1981 photograph shows the Mur (Wall) paper covering a wall in a room furnished with the 1928 chair flanked by a recent lamp. Hanging on another —red— wall is a painting by Le Corbusier. In the foreground, the green leaves of a potted plant complete the staging.
Yet in Serving Suggestions, reminiscent of all those pictures swamping interior design and sales catalogs, the hierarchy remains uncertain: to what does the “serving suggestion” primarily apply? The painting enlivens the setting for the chaise lounge every bit as much as the chair graces the display of the painting, and the anachronism of their juxtaposition vanishes in the clichéd nature of the set-up—it is a perfectly modern picture. Wood thus explores the visual impact of contemporary advertising strategies, as also witnessed in her transposition of architectural profiles found in outlying urban areas into pictograms that she subsequently employs in various media (Architecture de Zone péri-urbaine, 2013), which also indicate, if somewhat differently, her interest in modernism and its repercussions.
Catherine de Smet, 2015