More Gormley

The British sculptor Anthony Gormley seems to be everywhere these days. Sadly, I never managed to get to Delos to see his fantastic installation (for those who missed my post on this, you can find it here), because Delos is not easy to access. However, I took the opportunity to see his lovely exhibition at the Royal Academy  in London.

 

 

There were many of his ubiquitous depictions of the human body in various forms:

 

 

Some upside down

 

 

Walking on the ceiling.

 

 

But also some large and impressive installations:

 

Visitors were invited to walk through this one.

The one below looked like an alien vessel – an impressive 6 tons of steel rods suspended from the ceiling, dwarfing the people  beneath.

 

 

 

You could also walk through this next one, via the rectangular opening leading into a narrow steel tunnel, in almost total darkness – if you weren’t claustrophobic, that is.

 

 

But I mostly loved its architectural shapes, framed by the arched doorway.

 

 

 

Another installation featured a room flooded with Atlantic seawater on a bed of clay from Buckinghamshire. In general, the installations were  site-specific, fitting beautifully into the shape of each room.

 

 

Wall art included the work below, made with clay on a blanket, which had a fleeting, haunting aura.

 

 

The one below was not one of my favorites, but intriguing nonetheless, since it was made out of slices of bread dipped in wax:

 

 

 

Finally, for someone like me who loves works on paper, there was an abundance of treasures on offer, including a multitude of small spiral notebooks where Gormley recorded his ideas (these proved impossible to photograph, since they were presented in glass cases).

 

 

 

These drawings were made with charcoal and casein.

 

 

Deceptively simple,

 

 

But very evocative.

 

 

And there was a whole, luminous series made with earth mixed with linseed oil.

 

 

I came away most inspired.

 

 

Highly recommended, if you’re anywhere nearby.

 

Sculpture update: Tony Cragg in Athens


imageThe little girl standing next to me was counting faces.
‘There’s one,’ she pointed. ‘And another!’

imageThe sculpture before us was made of sheets of plywood glued together in layers. Three twisted pillars that reminded me of rock formations – or stalagmites (see photo on left). But as we circled it slowly, human profiles revealed themselves: some impassive, some stern, some faintly smiling. The little girl got excited, and so did I. If you look at the photo above, and the close-up below, you will see what I mean. This was one of the most deceptively simple, yet, upon inspection, incredibly complex pieces of art I’ve ever seen.
image

When asked if some of the faces somehow ‘appear’ when he’s creating the piece, Tony Cragg is firm. Everything is meticulously planned. He takes pencil to paper and sketches out every facet of a new idea before converting it to 3D. Sometimes this proves impossible – his imagination has run away with him. Some ideas never evolve beyond the drawing stage, but if the drawings themselves are lovely, the completed sculptures are breathtaking.

On September 8, a cosmopolitan and mostly young crowd gathered at the Benaki Museum for the opening of Tony Cragg’s sculpture exhibition. Cragg, 66, born in Liverpool, winner of the prestigious Turner Prize in 1988, has never shown his work in Greece before. He appeared happy to explain his thought processes as he stood in the auditorium, looking relaxed in an open-necked shirt. The audience enjoyed his engaging narrative which was accompanied by a slide show, and afterwards plied him with questions and requests to sign their catalogues.

Wandering amongst the works after the talk, my overwhelming urge was to touch them. Their curved, smooth surfaces cried out to be stroked.
imageCragg uses natural materials such as wood, polished stone and bronze as well as mirror-finish steel and even plastic.
The sculptures are very different. Some are squat and grounded.
image

Some seem to be leaning into the wind, their surface eroded into the outlines of human profiles. Others soar upwards. Yet they all emit the same energy, their shapes shifting depending on where you’re standing.

image

As I was leaving, I stopped to admire a few of the bigger bronze sculptures dotted about the museum’s wonderful courtyard.

image

The exhibition was curated by Xenia Geroulanou of the Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery,  who has represented the artist for 20 years; the Benaki Museum; and the artist himself, who loaned all the works from his own foundation.

*For anyone interested, below is the link to an article about Tony Cragg written by Vanessa Wildenstein for Athens Insider Magazine.

*For those in Athens, the exhibition runs until November 8, 2015.

Opening hours are Thursdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Benaki Museum, 138 Pireos & Andronikou, tel 2102.345.3111, http://www.benaki.gr