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CRITIC'S CHOICE

REVIEW

Reviewing the new monograph on Owen Jones (see page 46), Kenneth Powell remarks on the renewed interest in ornament that some architects are showing today. This preoccupation with a building's skin is prominent too in the fetishising of material - as, for instance, in the perforated copper of Herzog and de Meuron's de Young Museum, San Francisco. Then there's the recent taste for 'randomly' patterned facades, with windows shufed asymmetrically from floor to floor - a treatment which has quickly become a cliché.

In contrast to all this emphasis on surface and external appearance, Jules de Goede's paintings, with their razor-sharp geometry, are primarily about space. Working almost exclusively in grey, black and white, with occasional sharp accents of colour, he clearly delights in the 3D spatial effects that he can create on a at plane, though he likes to complicate things by introducing a real third dimension - that slender ellipse in the picture above, appearing to prise apart the red oblong and the green square, is an actual cavity, deeper at the bottom than the top. Yet in another work that same effect might instead be a painted illusion.

What these paintings sometimes bring to mind is Colin Rowe and Robert Slutzky's classic essay, 'Transparency:

Literal and Phenomenal', which located Modernism not so much in the glass walls of Gropius' Fagus factory as the 'phenomenal' transparency of Le Corbusier's Villa Stein-de Monzie, with its spatial ambiguities and layered planes. For de Goede, there's still life in those prewar spatial researches - and rightly so. His exhibition continues at Broadbent, 25 Chepstow Corner, London W2, until 22 July, and there's an excellent 126-page catalogue ( www. broadbentgallery. com).

Another link to prewar avant-gardes is Jonneke Jobse's De Stijl Continued: The Journal 'Structure' 1958-1964 (010 Publishers, 34.50 euros (£24)) - proof that Mondrian and Van Doesburg weren't so much a terminus as a bridge to continuing activity both in art and architecture. The writing is dry (it was a dissertation), but the book is absorbing, casting light on such gures as Aldo Van Eyck and Victor Pasmore, while some of the illustrations are sure to be a surprise.

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