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Anna Gillespie: Contemporary Figurative British Sculpture

21 Jun

Anna Gillespie: Contemporary Figurative Brisith Sculpture: Welcome.

Eva Rothschild

20 Dec

The Irish artist Eva Rothschild (born 1972, lives and works in London) is one of the most important protagonists of a generation of young artists dealing with the formal aspects of sculpture. Influenced by minimalism of the nineteen sixties and seventies, Eva Rothschild’s works convince through their tension-filled combinations of such diverse materials as leather, paper, Plexiglas, wood and metal.

Eva Rothschild has already exhibited internationally, including the impressive spacial site-specific 2009 installation “Cold Corners” at Tate Britain. The exhibition at Kunstverein Hannover is the first presentation of her work in Germany.

The fragile and linear formal vocabulary of Eva Rothschild’s sculptures and objects convince through their compositional clarity and strictness. The graphic linearity of her installations creates a fascinating impression of three-dimensional drawings in space.

In Rothschild’s object worlds, the history of abstract art, and hence the tradition of elementary forms such as circle, cone, square and triangle, encounters the puzzling and meaningful aura of the material. Rational minimalism meets emotional mysticism. The artist’s works consequently contain references to subcultures and the fetishization of the autonomous object: like archaic ritual atifacts, woven leather objects hang on the wall or as a group in space. Paper pictures with long rug fringes recall the leather jackets and rug culture of a romantically transfigured hippy world, formally re-dissolving the pieces’ abstract appearances. The overlapping of systems and worlds of meaning is particularly clear when Eva Rothschild interweaves two model images each for her woven paper works. In “Hand and I” (2003), a pair of eyes is thus pictorially entwined with an esoterically tinged corona.

The artist succeeds in making the spiritually-laden works of the early avant-garde equally visible in her pieces as concrete art’s claims of sociopolitical relevancy and the aesthetic pervasion of everyday life. The autonomous elementary form of minimalism encounters the potentially utopian, spiritual “image material” it finds in the environment of the esoteric and recent social utopian models.

Eva Rothschild subverts modernist insignias with irrationality, emotionality and contentual irritation that endow the works with a peculiar melancholy, an ambivalent potential between visionary progress and reactionary withdrawal. Her works’ subtlety enmesh the viewer in questions regarding pictures as objects of use and the use of pictures.

via Kunstverein Hannover.

Anthony Gormley: Two States

20 Dec

You come in from the privileged vistas on the terrace at the back of Harewood house, through a small arch and into a rectangular white walled gallery.

The ritual space is charged. The tension of the massive architecture presses down on the smooth rounded pillars. We are under a wealth of West Indian sugar, a sub-hall beneath a sweet pile of grandeur from the 18th Century. Children have played here. Wet dogs and muddy boots, now clean but still echoing. Servants have walked through, maybe slaves?

 

And yet this place doesn’t hold the irony of Shelley’s Ozymandias – that collapsed power in the sand. Here it is “look on my works and celebrate”. The Imperial power has surrendered slowly and gently. Out of the sands of the Empire emerge two rusty sentinels. They confront each other respectfully, they recognize their long term decay, they know they will stand for generations before their blocks are broken into the archives of future archaeologists. They are not two states, but one pulsing circuit, carefully balanced magnets in the field of presence.

 

Anthony Gormley’s work is, like all effective sculpture, about the fine art and craft of tension, the dichotomies within the material, and the relationship of the finished piece to the environment within which it dwells. The ‘Two States’ are not the two figures, but the historical states of the past and the historical states of the present. The stately home and the post-stately guests. Here there is a state of rusty angular blocks, there, at each corner is the state of round pillared stone. The figures are calm, reflective, introvert, contained. The doric columns are proud, reaching up, extrovert, muscular.

 

Gormley’s work is modernist. In this work the cubism could be criticised for being too literal. I prefer to think of it as a generous cubism. Although on-guard, these two figures are welcoming. All they ask is a certain respect. A longer look does lead to deeper questions. Where did the muscles go? This is a state of structural integrity, a built-up-from-the-ground struggle with gravity. This is abstract bone-work, spinal developmentalism. And therefore human.

 

A what is common to both states? Dignity. Somehow we stand tall, despite the balancing act of boxes that we are. We look more like these sculptures than we might initially think. Our blood is ferrous. We will one day rust. We will come to see ourselves across the room. We might realise that life has been held up for us: there are pillars in place, built by others, maybe polished by us, maybe maintained, but generally unnoticed.

 

This is how we stand, without plinth or platform. This is how we are, stripped back beneath the skin and bone, vertically vulnerable. In this room we are pared down to lintels, lines and invisible ligaments. Our body-room is one of compression and load-bearing.

 

We enter and leave in different states.

Susie MacMurray: Sculptural Sensuousness and Play

22 Nov
Blind 2004, Peacock Feather Sphere

Susie MacMurray’s work encompasses drawing, sculpture and architectural installations. A former classical musician, she retrained as an artist, graduating with an MA in Fine Art in 2001. She now has an international exhibition profile and shows regularly in the USA and Europe as well as the UK.

Bristle 2008, Rubber Dairy Hose

An engagement with materials is central to MacMurray’s practice. Her role is one of alchemist: combining material, form and context in deceptively simple ways to stimulate associations within the viewers’ minds and to elicit nuanced meanings.

Oracle 2008 rubber dairy hose, dimensions variable

Working in installation and sculpture she has gained a reputation for site-specific interventions in historic spaces. Her work frequently references the history of a space and seeks to merge the particularities of that history, the specifics of site, and the inherent references attached to materials in an attempt to gain insight into the relationship between place and people.

Stratum 2011 Islington Mill, attic space 80 kg feather down

Drawing is an important part of MacMurray’s practice. In addition to her large scale pen & ink work she extends the possibilities of making drawings using unconventional materials including rubber tubing, hair and wax.