Tag Archives: sculpture

Cartography down Cork Street

We had a gallery day last week, where we popped into the final days of the Ai Weiwei Exhibition at the RA. I had been to see it already but it is good to have time to revisit with a fresh eye. I still have mixed feelings about my project progress – although I am trying to have some time off thinking about it – I cannot shake the worry that I have no idea what to do next.

I always considered Ai Weiwei as a political artist, which of course he is, but within here is a lot of context about his place and the understanding of identity and place within modern China. He also has some works explicitly using topographic information – a comment on the change of identity of the Chinese people.

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After coming out of the RA we took a wander up what is left of Cork Street, the once gallery filled road now almost half demolished and in scaffolding.  We came across two rather interesting shows. Firstly Daniel Chadwick showing at Damiani Fine Art. Although probably better known for his mobile and kinetic works (reminiscent of Calder’s!), the Cork Street show was a collection of Chadwick’s art as an evocation of nature, using inspiration from the undulating countryside of his native Gloucestershire. His works, as with the Ai WeiWei works above, are very similar to topographical reliefs.

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A little further down the street we stopped by the Alan Cristea Gallery who were showing With Space in Mind, a collection of prints by a range of leading sculptors. These sculptors have a unique approach to printmaking, one which is physical and tactile – about process and material, object as well as image. This is exactly what I hope for my own work to be about in whatever form I decide upon.

“These prints explore the relationship between multiple dimensions, whether through directly referencing sculptures or the physical process in making the print. The artists clearly convey their outlook on the development of their art and their individual approach to printmaking. This does not contradict the sculptures for which they are renowned, rather complements them as it stresses the importance of process and material and emphasises that their artwork is not only physical, but that image also holds great importance. The process of printmaking is representative of their expansion of form and ideas that spur their sculptural works and thus pave a fundamental style throughout their pieces”

A couple of sculptors stood out for me: firstly Richard Serra

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Then, most significantly (but unsurprisingly), Richard Long. He uses carborundum paste directly applied to the plates by hand, replicating the process he uses in his mud drawings. The energy, rawness and viscerality of this print overtakes everything else in the whole gallery.

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All of these different works show just a glimpse of the range of angles which a discussion about place can take. Ranging from the human interacting with raw nature from Richard Long, to the political identities of place within Ai Weiwei. I think I need to re-position my own ideas within this context – perhaps revisiting my research essay as well. Hopefully this will give me some ideas on what is the key to me moving forward.

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Artist’s Profile: Stephen Talasnik

While doing a bit of searching on the nature of contemporary drawing practices, I came across the American sculptor Stephen Talasnik. Talasnik creates mesmerising work in both 3D form and 2D drawings, which seem to encapsulate a world within themselves. His works all have a strong sense of geometry (which is probably why they caught my attention) and the resulting structures appear familiar while being undefined and opaque.

I came across an interesting article about Talasnik, framed under the question: What is the relationship of drawing to sculpture? This is a question I’ve been harbouring for a while as I a still considering my practice as a drawing aesthetic as opposed to a sculptural one. I need to understand what this means to be able to explain and defend it in the future. On this point, the article suggests that: 

It might well be argued that sculpture, given its volumetric nature, is a more direct, or even honest, presentation of reality; drawing and painting, by contrast, are inevitably given over to a trick of the eye. Flatness suggests the recognition of two-dimensional art’s limited means in relation to the world that it takes as its cue; we can represent, to some extent, the visual complexities of what we see only if we agree to suspend our disbelief before the receding depths of what we have in front of us. Sculpture, on the other hand, has no such need to beguile us into believing what we know does not in fact exist. Its very actuality is a call to the reality we experience not only in the imagination but also in life…the art of drawing, always capable of conjuring not only what is seen in the world but also what is seen in the mind, has the freedom to extravagantly suppose. As for sculpture, it gives body to the essentially illusory nature of drawing; it puts forth, in actual terms, the imaginative compilation of drawn forms. It does what drawing cannot: it sees the form into physical reality.

Talasnik is quoted discussing how drawing is way of thinking, while sculpture provides the evidence of form:  “Drawing is a fundamental tool for invention. It is the thought process, while sculpture is the material realization. Sculpture is finite, and drawing is infinite…prior to my recent involvement in sculpture, my drawings invented the real—I was interested in designing fiction. Now, with the evolution of my sculpture, my drawings are liberated from exactitude and instead explore enigmatic structure.”  Although Talsnik’s drawings are metaphysical in nature, his process is such that makes clear the physicality of its making. Talasnik apparently shares the philosophy of Frank Lloyd Wright in believing “How something is made is as important as what it looks like”. His drawing process includes abrasion of the paper with power tools, wood-carving tools, steel file cleaners, leaving a surface embodying its creation. This in stark contrast to the ‘visionary imagination’ depicted on the page.

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Inspiration for Talasnik’s practice seems to sit somewhere between architecture and engineering, both disciplines required exacting measurement and accuracy. He is clear however, that is work is generated from his imagination while at the same time being connected with reality. Talasnik is “intrigued by architecture that is able to integrate the engineering process as a visible, organic part of design.” Like his drawings, his sculptures depend on open articulation of form, made from small pieces of wood which are reinforced with glue, he create open shapes whose “gracefulness stems in part from the transparency of structure”.

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The article concludes that Talasnik, for all his references to architecture and engineering, is as equally involved with the sublime.

He mediates his structures through the recognition of historical precedents that place him within a continuum of visionary artists whose imagination exceeded the ability of certain forms to be built…Talasnik is interested in approaching, even capturing, the sublime through form. His impulse to create is moderated through his extremely regulated technique; the combination of the two makes for art that is, and is not, of this world.

A couple more pictures:

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Reference: http://www.sculpture.org/documents/scmag02/julaug02/talasnik/tal.shtml