Against the Grain

Claudia Comte in Gladstone Gallery
Photographer: Dustin Aksland

Armed with a chainsaw, the Swiss artist Claudia Comte is literally carving a reputation for herself with a one-month residency at Gladstone Gallery. Having never spent time in the city before, the Comte, who is based in Berlin, seized the opportunity to transform Gladstone’s airy 21st Street space first into her studio—and then into one of her optical installations. The resulting show, No Melon No Lemon, is populated with the abstract wooden sculptures for which she is best known, but it is Comte’s alternating burnt pine and painted citric paneling that engulfs visitors in her world. Before the opening, Comte put her power tools down long enough to take us on a tour.

“No Melon No Lemon” is on view until March 21st at Gladstone Gallery, 530 West 21 Street, New York.

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

Claudia Comte in Gladstone Gallery.

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“My title, No Melon No Lemon, is a double palindrome. I like the way the letters in the title connect to the modularity of the work.”

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“When Barbara [Gladstone] first proposed a solo show to me, she suggested we do it in this space instead of this other gallery. It’s one big cube, which is ideal for me. Of course, I also had to work with the height of the space.”

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“The entire installation is organized layer by layer. I need to be methodic otherwise I lose too much time.”

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“Generally, I work in the forest because my chainsaw makes so much noise and such a mess.”

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“For me, it’s a great pleasure to work with a material that grows for many years. Most of these tree are more than 80, so it is really something to cut into them.”

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“In Berlin, I feel free—there are less rules. It’s easier to do what you want to do. But, I could really imagine moving to New York. I like the lifestyle.”

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“I like to make big things, but I am also working on tiny details. The sculptures require meticulous work. In this room, there is a line every five centimeters, so we are really speaking about millimeter-sized touches.”

Photographer: Dustin Aksland

“When I am invited to be in a show or installation, I first ask for the plan of the room, so everything I make is connected to the space.”


“It’s still exactly like my initial plan. Of course, now it feels like I’m inside the model.”