Over 21, Christophe Laudamiel at Dillon Gallery
The entrance door opened and the brownstone was filled with a wash of fragrance that spilled out and down from the second floor gallery, instantly I was reminded that euphoria comes from smelling things that are really good. Master Perfumer Christophe Laudamiel recently presented a solo exhibition entitled, Over 21 at the Dillon Gallery in NYC. He literally invited us to sit down at the table to experience a ten-course olfactory meal that spanned 10 years of his exhibition work. A large long table held a place-setting for 10 inkwell-like containers that were filled with scented juice, blotters were dipped into the juice and directed to the nose. Sex, addiction, taboos, and recreation were explored through scent, and at the table there were a myriad of compositions that came across vicious, pungent, intoxicating, magnificent, and unsettling, each a defining statement. There was no denying that there were other forces also at play too. Even though I sat in the room alone, I was reminded that scent is best when experienced with others, and the table is a place to commune and these fragrances deserve discourse. At the table we can leave our simple ideas about scent behind. Laudamiel wants to elevate the discussion, he writes “scent is not only about memory, a scent can be abstract, help create forward thinking ideas and project oneself into the future.” Over 21 also showcased the artist’s evolution. His most recent scents created in 2017 came across more daring than his earlier creations. Take We Are All Liquid (2017), pungent, salty, and yeasty almost flat then to my surprise its heart revealed a brilliant floral component, as I sat and relaxed with the scent it reminded me of humanity and all of our potential. Some come across just as they are, and there is no need for an explanation: Mushroom (2008); Secret Grass (Laudamiel/Hornetz 2011); Cocaine (Laudamiel/Hornetz 2008); Sweat or Sex? (2017), while others keep us in the moment, such as, Cocktail Hour – Green Fairy in Chelsea (Laudamiel/Charron 2017) an expert take on Absinth, a scented sonata composed of wormwood, anise, fennel, and coriander, a transfixing composition that steadies the heart rate. Spacewood 40SU (Laudamiel/Hornetz 2001-2008) takes us into the future, it was presented in a covered porcelain bowl in the center of the table inside were scented kaolin pebbles; this is the kind of fragrance that makes you chase it, you don’t ever want it to end. It is a icy dry futuristic metallic floral; Spacewood awakens the nostrils to imagine a scented galaxy, notes of Paradisone, violet leaves, and natural vanilla create the illusion. Laudamiel frees fragrance from the bottle and pushes us toward an undefined experience with scent that both dumfounds and captivates. Through his artistry Laudamiel reminds us that we are intricately connected to our sense of smell, if only we would notice it.
Photo: Place-setting for Green Fairy in Chelsea, NYC February 2017