Two translucent pillars emerge in union, an essence and echo of symmetry as two opposing forces are brought together, bound by a rounded rippling core of pulsing sensation. It is here in Le Vase Communiquant by French artist Flavie Audi
that the sublime centre of connection is cast centre stage. The magnetic nucleus of this glass vase puts a transcendental state of becoming into stark focus. Juxtaposed against the quivering linearity of its supporting columns the knotted globular heart of the piece takes on new contrasting connotations: an atom blown out of proportion, an imploding star, a centre of gravity. A liquid aqueous world seems to shiver through the piece, as scientific as it is spiritual, an architecture of space in which two quasi-linear paths converge. Forged in the fires of Murano during a global pandemic Le Vase Communiquant cannot help but reflect its own interconnected nature and the immediacy and importance such a framework connotes.
As with all of Audi’s artworks in glass part of the endless appeal of this mystical material is the energy that inherently flows through it. Coaxing the material through differing stages, from solid to liquid to solid, a memory of this fluidity remains bewitchingly ensnared. “It’s almost like the object has this sort of aura and this sort of energy together,” she explains, “the two vases are sort of talking, but they have a magnetic connection, or an invisible attraction that we can’t really express. It’s surreal, almost as if there’s this sort of realm, a sort of parallel aspect of reality that we can’t grasp, where these objects connect on another level.” She laughs: “when I made them it almost felt like two people with this hybrid baby.”
Despite their parental push and pull, the two columns are indeed bound together by a shared circular essence. The Vase comes in a variety of finishes but Audi prefers a vivid shimmering transparency of colour wherein each cylinder fades through dissolving shades, one from pink to blue, the other from blue to pink, a slick chromatic shift, a shiver of liquid colour, a molten dream.“I like this gradient of colour,” she notes, “this idea of the surreal, the transparency, it feels more like it’s invisible, sort of ghostly.” This erosion acts as an enhancement: “this idea of how it’s all still in the process of something, there’s this transience.”
At once transient and transforming, the Vase Communiquant not only manages to transgress the bounds between art and design, it also illuminates the fundamental points of union that solidify such disciplines. “I feel it’s more interesting to do something more ambiguous” Audi notes, “the cylinder is the most basic container for flowers, and I wanted to play with that and give them that sort of central twist,” this subtle gesture morphs the identity of the Vase, warping it to relay an interconnected plurality in a single motion. The utility of the object is contorted as the forms work both with and against the natural flow of the molten material. “Working with glass is very much a sort of ballet, a sort of dance” Audi muses, the image chimes again with the Vase’s duplicitous nature and the dynamic choreography at play: the two columns are suddenly transformed into paired partners, forever caught in surreal synchronisation, forever reaching to each other across their self-made divide.
The name? “It just came like a flash,” Audi recalls. Inspired by the novel by Surrealist André Breton Les Vases Communicants, or The Communicating Vessels (1932), a book that had been sitting on her shelves for some time. Though Audi insists it was mainly the title that struck a chord it’s hard not to link the book’s contents to the potent physicality of the two interconnected forms. The thesis at the book’s centre holds great sway over her final design, the key image of Breton’s “capillary tissue” which acts between the exterior world of fact and our interior landscapes of emotion, the invisible link between reality and imagination, resonates intensely. In Le Vase Communiquant Audi makes this relationship visible, the concept conjured before our very eyes, played out and performed in glass.
This central communion echoes the original experiment from which Breton’s “communicating vessels” takes its name, where a gas passes from one side of a container to the other. This dynamic exchange is at the heart of the Vase, the point of connection centred at the core of its shared and swollen heart. To create Audi found she “followed the natural tendency” of the molten material, allowing it to guide her as much as she guided it. “I just feel like there’s this moment, this suspension in time, where it almost feels like we captured that instant,” she notes, “like we stopped the moment in time.”
Written by Thea Hawlin - Venice, April 2021
Thea Hawlin is a writer who lives and works in Northern Italy. After studying English Literature at the University of Cambridge she worked in London for a literary magazine before moving to Italy, where she currently assists the communications for Berengo Studio in Murano. She writes on arts and culture for a variety of publications including Apollo, Frieze, and the Telegraph.