Almost Physical. Almost Debris

On Wednesday 24 April 2013, I embarked on a journey to Reepham, Norfolk. From London Liverpool Street to Norwich Station and 30 minutes drive. Sculptor Lee Grandjean invited me to his studio. I was fortunate to spend the night. What constitutes pleasure? One could argue such moods are derived completely from our natural senses, unconditioned by behaviour and external factors. Seeing and action address the psychological and physical sensibility of Grandjean’s sculpture. In the main barn studio, I’ll call it studio A, the focus is mainly on three-dimensional work, whereas in the smaller studio ‘B’ the principle concern is painting and drawing using various mediums on paper and canvas. Each studio holds a different atmosphere, seemingly different sets of rules and circumstances. Nonetheless, their differences in terms of working orders allows the spectator to experience both the exploration of formal context and to realise the relationship between a rather abject narrative and its comic possibilities. The full potential of which, may not be fully realised, if exhibited separately. Looking around studio A, I was impressed with the strength and vitality of Grandjean’s arrangement. Pieces of timber, plaster, metal, cloth, and tools are scattered across the floor. I wondered if this was a conscious aspect of the working process or a random distribution? Within the same territory we find a combination of complete and unfinished works. I had a desire to put parts together myself and was compelled to examine methodically and in detail the many sculptures as the course of action necessary to engage properly with the work. Lee Grandjean constructs his objects in careful configurations that often appear unsettling and ambiguous. There is a romantic tension among materials, colour, form and scale. Each object has an intriguing character, in spite of the fact that their expressions and story remains unclear, the work demonstrates a potential for action yet feels vulnerable and melancholic. The general notion of constructing in wood, fabric, scrim, cement and paint demands the audience’s attention and questions their relationship to material and image and ‘being’ in the world. The work entitled ‘The Lost’, completed in 2012, does not seem to follow a clear narrative, but rather it is concerned with representing the underlying feelings. This kind of extended ‘dramatism’ as Kenneth Burke explained, answers the empirical question of how persons reveal their actions. Such activity triggers a language embedded in process, an absolute reflection of reality, here and now. The visual often shows a body’s relative mass while retaining the quantity of matter contained within. Blue Legs and Crystal, 2011 illustrate an emotional intensity. Both objects are presented with unusual freedom, in an attempt perhaps to find a closer approach to life by adopting unconventional techniques of making sculpture. Another concept is improvisation, but there is precise method in it. First is the necessity of building up on ‘a root’. Each class or division, jump or sprint is towards a particular target. To adjust and highlight a gesture, which belongs to nature or indefinable characters are often problematic in sculpture. What I find intriguing is the secret love affair and the unity associated with presence and absence. The interchange between the two remains connected yet apart within a single whole. Perhaps it shares the same charisma as cubism while retaining its natural laugh.

Lee Grandjean is an artist and former Deputy Head of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, 2010. Grandjean has had several solo shows, participated in various group exhibitions, broadcasts, commissions and has taught at art schools throughout the UK.

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