Object of the Week

‘Organic Yakisugi n2’, 2020

Vincent Dubourg

By Anna Sansom / 19th August 2022
Vincent Dubourg, ‘Organic Yakisugi n2’, 2020 COURTESY: Vincent Dubourg & Danysz Gallery

Vincent Dubourg, ‘Organic Yakisugi n2’, 2020
COURTESY: Vincent Dubourg & Danysz Gallery

VINCENT DUBOURG HAS an alchemistic flair for transforming materials, pushing them beyond their boundaries into an altered state, the surfaces changed beyond recognition. This is epitomised in the French artist and designer’s ‘Organic Yakisugi N. 2’ (2020), a low coffee table made from burnt plywood that features in Dubourg’s exhibition, ‘Densité’, at Danysz in Paris until 27th August 2022.

Dubourg made the irregularly shaped table in his vast studio in the Creuse department of central France. The wavy contours give the piece its organic feel, which is accentuated by a smaller, superposed layer of burnt plywood resting on the table’s surface like a slab of stone on a rock. The concave base, meanwhile, with rippling horizontal lines, offers a slightly cavernous aspect, loosely reminiscent of a rock pool.

The title of the table refers to how Dubourg was inspired by an ancestral Japanese technique, ‘yakisugi’ (also known as ‘shou sugi ban’), that harks back to the eighteenth century. It involves lightly charring the surface of the wood, achieving a blackened tone. The wood is then burnished with wire brushes and sandpaper to remove excess charr and reveal the material’s intrinsic properties underneath – resulting in the wood taking on an entirely different aesthetic.

Born in 1977 near Paris, Dubourg studied at the prestigious École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and in the 2000s he caught the eye of Carpenters Workshop Gallery and began a collaboration. He is known for experimenting extensively with a variety of materials and capturing the moments of their transformation.

The forms of his works may become deconstructed, resulting in a riot of angles. For instance, his current exhibition also includes a sideboard in aluminium, one end of which has an explosion of fragmented shapes rising into the air and tumbling onto the ground. It’s the kind of surreal signature piece for which Dubourg has been widely acclaimed.

Dubourg’s interdisciplinary show spread over three floors at Danysz bears testament to the breadth of his output and dexterity in deftly manipulating materials and craftsmanship to dramatic effect. Mural installations composed of interlocking, bended rectangles of wood seem to leap off the wall in a vivid expression of movement. Geometric sculptures made from hammered aluminium seem infused with an energetic force.

Dubourg’s works, such as the ‘Organic Yakisugi n2’ table, feel honest and direct. The techniques are intelligible rather than concealed, yet are mastered to captivate the viewer.

‘Vincent Dubourg – Density’ at Danysz.

Article by Anna Sansom
Article by Anna Sansom
Anna Sansom is a British journalist, based in Paris, who writes about contemporary art, design and architecture. View all articles by Anna Sansom