Saturday, 11 February 2017






Art asks the hard questions – it has no master beyond its maker.
Today many artists engage the environment in their thinking and making.
Les Futo is one of these and focussed on making work that will cause the viewer to think.

His current journey began in late 1990, at the time of the First Gulf War. Opposed to war-mongering he adopted a ‘leg’ of a protest walk between Bendigo and Melbourne. By the end of his 40 km he had a pocket-full of lighters – disposable but not bio-degradable, plastic objects. Now he has more than 9000 which form just a part of the ‘swag of stuff’ he has chosen to gather to speak to the world – aware of the fact that scale impresses, and colour attracts.

When he is not shaping his collection, as sculptor employing ready-made elements, Futo is a stonemason – his material sensitivities thus embrace both ends of human endeavor, the disposable and the enduring. Working with diametrically opposed media is a provocative place to be and creates a tension in Futo’s output. He tames this tension with a focus on colour, wrapping the tonalities of weather-worn objects into deceptively dynamic simple shapes and forms.

In ‘the window’ on this occasion, Futo’s work hints at that of Joseph Cornell (1903 - 1972), setting up another tension, containment. Cornell worked with new and deliberately acquired objects within frames, and in this sense his work is much more akin to window-dressing and allied consumption, by contrast Futo’s work with the found is perhaps more accurately a part of the now venerable tradition of ready-mades, think Duchamp’s Fountain (1917), in fact a urinal.

‘Futo’s found’ are smaller, more fragmented elements so in a sense his work relates also, to European, (for example Hungarian Miksa Roth, 1865-1944), and Byzantine mosaics. The objects he employs contrast with ancient mural narratives in the sense that the material, rather than the image, conveys the ‘story’. Yet another tension that makes art such a good provocateur.

Where Carolyn Cardinet, WINDOWSPACE-BEEAC exhibitor Sept-Oct 2015, repurposes and surprises with her quirky use of the found and discarded, Futo uses his ‘swag of stuff’ as the medium and with some reverence for each element in the whole, like a brushstroke, ‘they all have a story’, ‘everything has a home’ and their placement on the ‘canvas’ is itself tender and meaningful. Futo claims also to delight in the search, the constant watch-out of the hunter-gather, the thrill of the chase as he sees what we pass over and he delights in later bringing to our attention. He muses over the creation of a time-capsule – ‘I want the future to see how fucked-up we were.’ Like Duchamp, Futo might claim: “I was interested in ideas—not merely in visual products.”


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