Category Archives: Reviews

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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Antony Gormley at White Cube (28.11.12 – 10.2.13)

Please click the link below for images.

http://whitecube.com/exhibitions/antony_gormley_model_bermondsey_2012/

Bermondsey

Antony Gormley’s work emerges as a beam use to support the mind, a stationary store full of similar items. The interesting part is their simplicity in terms of form and tranquility. Gormley emphasised the need to create works that activates space and make the audience aware of their own situation within this arena. When entering the exhibition space, you are confronted with several sculptures arranged across the corridor. The first room on the left (South Gallery 1) is a collection of models made from various materials, size and shape installed on a series of metal tables. In this room everything appears to be mathematically calculated, a language of architecture. I was overwhelmed by the quantity of these semi structures and how each part was perfectly connected. The intention that exists and the message are very clear, this is a room produced to show the look and function of an object before it is built. Gormley has a strong knowledge of materials and their sensibility, an understanding of form and weight. Nonetheless, can his sculptures provide anything beyond what he has already accomplished? Or is he merely trying to retrace its previous life with the hope of discovering something new? The reason for these questions, is because, most his work is an act of repetition – In other words, recycling their own DNA. The following room, the work titled Mark, offer to a small degree a different perspective, the direction and distance reminds me of a signpost, something that acts as a guidance as to where to position oneself. In the North Gallery, six large works were composed evenly across the space. The South Gallery II is a work, which allows visitors to walk into this structure. In comparison to other pieces on show, this particular instrument arranged in parts is different in its capacity to take and give. Each section very much relies on human interaction, a conversation between the spectator, the work and possibly the other, the one beside you or outside this so-call body – there is an unpleasant emotion filled with some sort of desire or the need to experience, to be taken on a journey.  I find it extremely strange and in one hand, I admire Gormley for his dedication and life pursuit but on the other, I feel the list of works in this exhibition is beginning to interrupt its own trick. Just as people, can an idea after a series of prolong activity be weakened? Despite all the above questions, I am optimistic of the power embedded in room four, the South Gallery II. Whether or not the show was a success, I simply believe Antony Gormley is trapped within his own canvas. The only question is, should he declare a new identity unaccustomed to previous ideas with an option of obtaining a new mood of expression and purpose or remain a slave to such ideology?

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Joan Miro at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (17.03.12 – 06.01.13)

Monday 10th December, I embarked on a journey to YSP. My last visit was roughly four years ago. On my arrival, I was full of joy and enthusiastic. I was curious about Joan Miro and his contribution to sculpture, considering his painting is well regarded as the dominant force. Miro once said ‘I am a young sculptor’. Nonetheless, I sincerely believe this is a work of great craft. I do not necessarily mean in terms of skills, but the craft that lives in the unknown, the subject of its own interpretation.At YSP, four rooms have been dedicated and scripted Miro the sculptor. One is a project space that gives a brief and parallel idea surrounding the “thinking” behind his sculptures, stage theatre, and a collection of data reflecting his early life, and the period before and after he moved to Paris. The remaining three rooms are full of integrity – the work consumes and makes visible different set of rules, and in many respects, it has the ability to transcend yet without losing the sense of self. It is the work of a great magician. I found myself captivated, even seduced by the combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, and all the elements that please senses. I felt in love with Miro. Twenty-first century sculpture lacks purity, but in this exhibition, the work is free from any contamination. Miro’s sculptures could be considered as a dual – a two-part model and each individual work is a character, a product of his dreams, imagination, childhood and its relationship with the material world. After contemplating the connection among all these works, I witnessed a contradiction between the indoor and outdoor. The outdoor space has numerous semi-large sculptures scattered around the field, (One might call these monuments). There is an uncertainty, although they do have a poetic and an external power, a faculty by which the body can physically and emotionally engage with the viewer. But there is a lack of truth. You are probably thinking what do I mean about truth. Well, truth is the absolute veracity of a statement, its personal reflection. The work cannot connect with nature in the manner Henry Moore’s sculptures do. Moore’s sculptures embody nature as a spiritual entity. Miro’s outdoor pieces come into sight as a trophy cabinet in nature’s guidance. However, this is not a criticism, the work simply appears to have a different responsibility. Whatever its duty may be, it is beyond comprehension and the only hope of survival, is to find a common ground with nature. Whereas, the indoor exhibition is a memorial of pain, struggle, love, pleasure and humour, a divine sensibility, a collection of verbs – the work of a true gentleman.

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