‘Mesa Garcia’ table/desk, 1999
BRAZILIAN SCULPTOR AND designer Hugo França has been carving alluring forms of furniture in his studio in Trancoso, Bahia, since the 1980s. In a vocation marrying sustainability and creativity, his materials of choice are pequi, oiticica, barauna and ipê woods that have been salvaged from the rampant deforestation of the Atlantic Forest in southern Bahia, and from natural catastrophes.
França enlists a team of workers to transport the fallen trees to a large forestry-waste storage area at his studio. Later, he sets about transforming trunks, roots and branches into seductive sculptures and pieces of furniture that preserve the wood’s organic shape and texture. He lets his imagination be guided by the grains and natural paths of the raw material in order to create unique works of functional art.
An example of França’s practice is the seductive ‘Mesa Garcia’ (1999) – described as a desk or table – that appears in the upcoming design sale of Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr, on 7 December, in Paris. British auction house Bonhams acquired Cornette de Saint Cyr, located on Avenue Hoche near the Arc de Triomphe, earlier this year. This is the first design sale since the acquisition.
‘Mesa Garcia’, Lot 60, is indisputably one of the highlights of the sale. The desk/table was directly purchased from the artist by the consignor, who has a private collection in Brazil. Notably, it was also published in a catalogue dedicated to the artist’s work.
A rounded, hollow form extends from its upper limit to a smooth, long, rectangular surface. It’s immediately evident that it has been carved from a tree trunk. An enveloping generosity and assertive identity emanate from it. And, thanks to it standing on a single thick branch at the other end, it encompasses a play on geometry and gravity. Like many of França’s pieces, it’s made from pequi (Caryocar brasiliensis), a tropical wood found in South America.
While França is still not widely known in Europe, he is highly regarded in Brazil. Instituto Cultural Inhotim – an important foundation of contemporary art founded by mining magnate Bernardo Paz in the state of Minas Gerais – owns the largest collection of França’s work. Monumental pieces produced especially for the open-air museum are displayed in its lush gardens.