February 17, 2017

Holly Hendry @ BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art, Gateshead

Holly Hendry: Wrot
BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art, Gateshead
18 February – 4 June 2017

Holly Hendry
HOLLY HENDRY
Gut Feelings, 2016.
Plaster, steel, aluminium, cement, Jesmonite, polyurethane foam, marble, birch ply, soap, chewing gum, rawhide dog chew, motor
Courtesy the artist and Limoncello, London.

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead presents the first major institutional exhibition by emerging British artist Holly Hendry.

Holly Hendry (b. London, 1990) presents an entirely new body of work for her exhibition Wrot for the BALTIC level 2 space. Using a variety of materials, from Jesmonite and plaster to foam, wood, steel and water-jet cut marble, she creates a geology of oozy forms peppered with comic elements, such as dog chew bones and spinning plaster teeth. She investigates the underneath and backsides of things, using cross-sectional cuts that make insides become edges, revealing their dirty innards. Her works talk about absence through presence and offer intimacy without proximity. Her sugary colours and cartoon content examine the very human aspects of laughter and death.

The works in the exhibition, including an archaeology of layered fragments like a museum diorama, resist the flatness of surface, pulling us underneath to see the details. Holly Hendry says ‘like the grimy surface of the street at ground level - a striation of all the debris, layers, fragments and time we’ve stomped down’ the layered structure offers a cartoonish impression of the layers of sediment that we usually overlook, under our feet. Surfaces are important in the work - primed, polished and finished - the applications we use to protect and conserve materials and what we use to cover things up or conceal. The title of the show itself Wrot is a definition used in the building trade to refer to timber with one or more sides planed smooth. It also references rotting, decay or breakdown and things happening under the surface that Holly Hendry’s cross sections or slices allow us to explore. Layering, reconstitution of materials, agglomerates and new materials made from old are referenced and how these materials are displaced, dug out and filled, giving rise to the build-up and break down of entire biological and industrial systems.

The works in the exhibition, as is typical of the artist, draw attention to the spatial, material and structural qualities of the architecture and how space is experienced. Her large-scale sculptures are built specifically for BALTIC’s Level 2 gallery space, without referring directly to it. Rather, they rely on the architecture as a framework. They connect to it, as Holly Hendry states, with ‘spatial ligaments, like necklace to neck’.

Holly Hendry’s interest in the architectural qualities of the body itself - our internal structure of bones that supports the surface skin is explored in the exhibition. She considers the physicality of the human body and our attempts through medical science, from prostheses to intimate sutures, to arrest its inevitable decline. Teeth, the body part that is lost more often, appear blown up and looming in the space. Emblematic of the fact that our bodies never remain intact, they are both markers of people and a way to identify remains. More broadly, Holly Hendry is interested in sculpture’s relationship to the memorial. Grave-like cavities puncture Holly Hendry’s surfaces – places where bone and skin turn to dust and where matter changes: the body returning to its material substances, becoming ‘stuff’ again. The exhibition reminds us of the permeability of the body’s periphery and our coagulation as bodies and objects.

HOLLY HENDRY (b. 1990, based in London, UK) gained her BA Fine Art at The Slade School of Fine Art (2013) and her MA Sculpture at the Royal College of Art (2016). Exhibitions include Limoncello Cork St, London (2016) with Kate Owens; Rice + Toye, London, UK (2016); Bosse & Baum, London, UK (2015); The Oval, London, UK; and Gallery North, Newcastle upon Tyne (both 2014). Recent group shows include GL Strand, Copenhagen; Belmacz Mayfair, London, UK; VITRINE, London, UK; The Royal Standard, Liverpool, UK; CBS Gallery, Liverpool, UK; Cowley Manor, Cotswolds, UK (all 2016); Turf Projects Space, Croydon, UK; Chesterfield House, London, UK; Salt + Powell, York, UK (all 2015), S1 Artspace, Sheffield, UK; and Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, AE (both 2014). 

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA UK
balticmill.com

February 16, 2017

Michael Scott @ Sandra Gering Inc, New York

Michael Scott: Recent Painting and Sculpture 
Sandra Gering Inc, New York
February 15 - April 21, 2017

Michael Scott
Michael Scott: Recent Painting and Sculpture 
Installation view
Photo Courtesy Sandra Gering Inc, New York

SANDRA GERING INC presents MICHAEL SCOTT: Recent Painting and Sculpture. This is Michael Scott’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery.

For this exhibition, Michael Scott pairs new free standing sculpture with paintings, both of which continue to explore the conceptual aspect of optics the artist has worked with since the mid 1980s.

Michael Scott’s interest in the sculptural nature of his work is brought to the foreground in this exhibition. Highly sensitive to materiality, Scott has always seen his paintings for their three-dimensional qualities. The enamel works in particular have, for the most part, been painted on aluminum grounds and projected off the wall on metal brackets, heightening their objectness. Adding to that, the striped surfaces have had multiple treatments, from matte to glossy and washy to textured. The pillar-like aluminum sculptures on view continue the stripe series, their verticality echoing the line work in a fully three-dimensional object.

Michael Scott’s history with linear abstraction dates back to contemporary art’s Neo-Geo movement. Using mathematics to build specific parameters for each work, he creates frisson by painting surfaces that can be difficult to look at. Color, contrast and scale all contribute to the overall optical effect. Michael Scott’s work is meticulous by nature. Fractions and progressions are highly meaningful, as are any diversions into expressionism or gestural mark-making. Taken as a whole, Scott’s stripe works show a sensitivity to nuance that can be likened to the work of Ad Reinhardt, Donald Judd, On Kawara and Josef Albers, as well as any number of Op-Art practitioners. 

Michael Scott has exhibited internationally since 1989. Venues have included Le Consortium, Dijon & Le FRAC, Nord-Pas de Calais, France; the Grand Palais National Galleries, Paris; Musée des Beaux Arts, La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland; PS1, New York; Centre National d'art Contemporain de Grenoble, France; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, Geneva, MAMCO, Geneva, and the Kunsthalle Bern, in Switzerland. A recent overview of Scott’s work was presented at the Centre d’art contemporain, Lausanne, Switzerland. Michael Scott lives and works in New York City.

SANDRA GERING INC 
14 East 63rd Street, New York, NY 10065
www.sandrageringinc.com

February 15, 2017

Judith Bernstein @ The Box Gallery, Los Angeles

Judith Bernstein: Cook in The Box
The Box, Los Angeles
February 11 – March 18, 2017

For The Box’s fourth solo-exhibition of JUDITH BERNSTEIN, a powerhouse known for her large-scale drawings of screws and provocative paintings, The Box expose another side of her process. Focusing on smaller-scale works, this show brings together some early masculine screw drawings with Bernstein’s explorations of male-to-female form, Anthuriums. The space holds a conversation in gendered shapes and forms.  

This exhibition features a large selection of Judith Bernstein’s Anthuriums, eighteen 24 x 24 inch paintings and drawings on canvas and on linen. The Anthuriums started in the early 1980s for an exhibition at A.I.R., with many of the early pieces rendered in charcoal, and drawn from botanical drawings of anthuriums and cacti. As the Anthuriums continued to develop, a prominent shape dominated and repeated, each recurring shape exploring variance of color and line. Together they tell a story of female form and strength. 

Almost in binary opposition to the Anthuriums, there is a never-before-seen Circle Screw from 1970. This rare work, a charcoal drawing on canvas, shows the long cylindrical shape of the phallic screw compacted into a stubby, round shape. This work is accompanied by a selection of framed screw drawings, also from 1970, that show the classic screws alone or in groups. Serving as studies for larger-scale multi-screw installations, these works were done prior to her infamous Horizontal (1973) that was censored from an exhibition at the Philadelphia Civic Center Museum in 1974. 

The Box deliberately chose smaller-scale pieces for this exhibition as a means of showing another side of Judith Bernstein’s practice. These works served both as preparatory drawings for larger works and as a way for the artist to explore shapes, materials, topics and forms. The titular work for the show, Cock in the Box (1966), is an example of an early drawing that culls the language of graffiti in men’s public toilets during the Vietnam era. The drawing references the Cock in the Box as ‘America’s Favorite Toy’, a sentiment that can echo the current state of uncertainty in America, as it seems clear how strongly ‘America’s Favorite Toy’ dictates authoritarian actions.

A group of Judith Bernstein’s word drawings are clustered together to show the insistence of her gesture in strong black charcoal line. These pieces from the mid 1990s reference and play off of Bernstein’s now infamous signature work, originally installed at Hillwood Art Museum in 1986 and then on the glass of the New Museum lobby in 2011. Bernstein began making large-scale versions of her own signature in the mid 1980s as an exploration of the ego. As a nod to these large-scale signatures, Bernstein has designed a signature for the front roll-up door of The Box. It is the first of her signature works to focus solely on her first name Judith. 

JUDITH BERNSTEIN was born in 1942 and currently lives and works in New York. She received her MFA from Yale University in 1967. Recent solo exhibitions include Dicks of Death at Mary Boone Gallery, NY (2016); Judith Bernstein at Kunsthall Stavanger, Norway (2016); Judith Bernstein at Karma International, Zurich (2014); Birth of the Universe: 18 New Paintings at The Box (2013); and Judith Bernstein: HARD at the New Museum, NY (2012). Recent group exhibitions include We need to talk… at Petzel Gallery, NY (2017); Coming to Power: 25 Years of Sexually X-Plicit Art By Women at Maccarone, NY (2016); Human Interest: Portrait from the Whitney’s Collection (2016) and America Is Hard To See (2015) at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Keep Your Timber Limber at ICA, London (2013). Judith Bernstein has work in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Jewish Museum, NY; and the Brooklyn Museum, NY.

THE BOX, LOS ANGELES
805 Traction Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90013 
www.theboxla.com

February 5, 2017

Barbara Kasten @ Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Barbara Kasten: Intervals
Thomas Dane Gallery, London
3 February - 25 March 2017

Thomas Dane Gallery presents Intervals, the very first solo presentation in the UK of the internationally acclaimed artist BARBARA KASTEN (b. 1936). The exhibition displays both historic and recent works that showcase the Chicago-based artist’s striking oeuvre, which spans over 40 years.

Barbara Kasten herself speaks of her work as ‘Painting in motion’, as it incorporates sculpture, photography and film, all of which contribute equally to the formation of her pieces. Her works are the results of extensive and carefully constructed installations, which she assembles in the studio by using ‘props’ like glass, mirrors, acrylic and metal elements, meticulously set up, solely for the camera. Barbara Kasten’s work is strongly informed by Postmodern Design and Architecture as well as by Constructivism, not to mention the works and lives of Kazimir Malevich and Lázló Moholy-Nagy and the latter’s engagement with the Bauhaus School. Deeply shaped by the California Light and Space Movement in the 1970s, Kasten, who was trained as a sculptor and painter, began to challenge preconceived notions of these disciplines by making use of the photographic medium.

In her ground breaking series Construct, developed in the late 70s and early 80s and taken with a Polaroid camera, Barbara Kasten transformed building materials into tableaux whose composition, style and manipulation of space display a true painterly sensibility. In her recent series Transpositions (2014-2016) and her latest body of photographic work titled Collisions (2016), she uses Plexiglas elements to create large-scale compositions. The use of Plexiglas allows the artist to achieve a degree of transparency whilst simultaneously denying its own physical existence – further intensified through the strong color saturations typical of the Cibachrome print’s surface, these works seem to amalgamate foreground and background to an abstract surface. Barbara Kasten’s diligent treatise of material, undeniably tied to her insatiable drive to explore the mysticism of light, questions the very essence of the image-making process, a quality that seems to defy medium-specific categorisation. In light of the contemporary habit of taking images without necessarily materializing them, this tension between the object-ness of the “thing” and the flat surface of the image adds a significant and growingly topical facet to her oeuvre.

A restless innovator, Barbara Kasten’s most recent body of work takes on the form of a mixed media projection. Revolutions (2017) comprises characteristic components such as Plexiglas, neutral photographic backdrop paper and light, channelled through a moving image recording. For the first time in the artist’s career, these hitherto “passive” elements, observed exclusively in their photographic reproduction, now step into 3-dimensional reality. Drawing from the paintings of Malevich, the work resonates with the findings of Suprematism, whose pursuit was to reach for the so-called zero degree of painting. Thus, Revolutions is structured by an algorithm, that creates repetitive and lingering elements which, darting to others, mimic habitual ways of examining works of art. Perceptually deceitful, or even illusionistic, solid material travels back and forth between sheer obscurity and physical presence: as with Barbara Kasten’s photographic work, the scale and materiality are interchangeable and thus become co-dependent.

The transition to moving image in Barbara Kasten’s oeuvre constitutes a metacommentary on the relationship between photography and film. The artist’s ongoing exploration of concepts rooted in art history and her experimentation with a wide variety of media, moving fluidly between the fine and applied arts, reveal an inquiry of the Constructivists endeavours to illuminate the interrelation of life, art, and technology. Always in sync with her times, yet in conversation with her predecessors, the ability of her imagery to transmit change and flexibility triggers an understanding of the present, which today seems utterly vital from our contemporary, digital perspective.

Barbara Kasten lives and works in Chicago. The monograph titled "Stages" has been published on the occasion of the same –named retrospective at The Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, The Graham Foundation and the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, curated by Alex Klein. Recent exhibitions include "IMAGINE REALITY. RAY 2015" MMK Frankfurt / Museum für Angewandte Kunst / Fotografie Forum Frankfurt, "A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio", Museum of Modern Art New York, "Extended Composition: Künstlerhaus Bethanien (, Nürnberger Kunstverein; and her work is included in renowned collections such as: Centre Pompidou Paris; Tate Modern London; Generali Foundation; Museum of Modern Art NY; Whitney Museum NY; J. Paul Getty Museum L.A.; The Hammer Museum, UCLA, CA; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

THOMAS DANE GALLERY
11 Duke Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6BN
www.thomasdanegallery.com

Annette Lemieux: Maud Morgan Prize 2017

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Awards 2017 Maud Morgan Prize, Honoring a Massachusetts Woman Artist, to Annette Lemieux

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), announced that Boston-based ANNETTE LEMIEUX (born 1957) is the recipient of its 2017 Maud Morgan Prize, which honors a Massachusetts woman artist who has demonstrated creativity and vision, and who has made significant contributions to the contemporary arts landscape. Ranging from painting to photography to found-object assemblage, Lemieux’s conceptual works confront urgent subjects such as the horror of war, the nature of time, the elusive truth of memory and the relationship between personal experience and cultural history. Currently a Senior Lecturer on Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University, she has influenced younger generations of artists as a teacher for more than 20 years. The Museum has collected Annette Lemieux’s works since the late 1980s, cultivating a sustained belief in her practice. As part of the Prize, the artist will receive a $10,000 award, and an exhibition of her work will be presented at the MFA in the summer.

“Annette is fearless about tackling timely socio-political issues in her artwork. She is a careful observer of the world and a thoughtful commentator on important issues of our time,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. “We look forward to working closely with her and sharing her voice with a wide and appreciative public.”

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Annette Lemieux received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford in 1980. After graduation, she spent a decade in New York City, working as an assistant for artist David Salle and becoming part of a burgeoning scene of appropriation artists—alongside Sarah Charlesworth, Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman—who frequently incorporated text, images, objects and symbols from mass media and pop culture into their work. Her work was featured in the Whitney Biennial in 1987 and 2000, as well as the Venice Biennale in 1990.

Annette Lemieux is the recipient of awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship, Brown University and the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Germany. In 2009 she received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Montserrat College of Art. Her work has been exhibited internationally and acquired by museums across the United States and Europe. In addition to the MFA, these include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tel Aviv Museum of Art and more. Lemieux’s critically acclaimed projects include solo exhibitions Unfinished Business (2012) at Harvard University’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts and the mid-career survey The Strange Life of Objects: The Art of Annette Lemieux (2010) at the Worcester Art Museum.

Al Miner, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, will collaborate with Annette Lemieux on her solo 2017 exhibition at the MFA marking the award of the Maud Morgan Prize.

“Annette has long been an admired and beloved fixture in the region’s art scene,” said Al Miner. “I’m thrilled to be working with an artist so deserving of this distinction. And I especially look forward to introducing audiences to recent MFA acquisitions and to debuting her exciting new body of work, which evidences her staying power.”

MAUD MORGAN PRIZE

Established at the Museum in 1993, the Maud Morgan Prize honors the recipient with a cash award and an MFA presentation of her work. The $10,000 prize is given biennially to a Massachusetts woman who has worked as an artist for at least 10 years, who has demonstrated creativity and vision, and who has made significant contributions to the contemporary arts landscape. In addition to recommendations by MFA curators, nominations are solicited from a broad cross-section of contemporary curators from throughout the Commonwealth. This year’s process involved 25 nominating organizations—more than in any previous year—and resulted in five finalists. After submissions were reviewed, finalists were chosen by a committee of MFA curators, and visits were made to the artists’ studios. Committee members selected Annette Lemieux, a decision endorsed by MFA Director Matthew Teitelbaum.

The committee included Al Miner (Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art), Jen Mergel (Robert L. Beal, Enid L. Beal and Bruce A. Beal Senior Curator of Contemporary Art), Liz Munsell (Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and Special Initiatives, a position supported by Lorraine Bressler), Emily Zilber (Ronald C. and Anita L. Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts), Kathryn Gunsch (Teel Curator of African and Oceanic Art) and Patrick Murphy (Lia and William Poorvu Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings and Supervisor, Morse Study Room).

Previous winners of the Maud Morgan Prize include Marilyn Arsem, Sarah Braman, Wendy Jacob, Ambreen Butt, Shelley Reed, Jill Weber, Ranee Palone Flynn, Suara Welitoff, Laura Chasman, Shellburne Thurber, Catherine McCarthy, Kendra Ferguson, Elsbeth Deser, Bonnie Porter, Natalie Alper, and Jo Ann Rothschild.

MAUD MORGAN (1903 - 1999)

During her most active years as an artist and instructor in Massachusetts, Maud Morgan represented a voice of recognition for women committed to a career in the arts. She was associated with some of the most distinguished artists of the 1930s and studied at the Art Students League in New York with Hans Hoffman. Morgan exhibited with the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York in the company of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko before instructing students of studio art, including Frank Stella and Carl Andre, with her then-husband, painter Patrick Morgan, at Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. At the age of 92, she published her autobiography, Maud’s Journey: A Life from Art. Throughout her career, Morgan was a source of inspiration for many artists, young and old.

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON
www.mfa.org

February 2, 2017

BRAFA 2017 : 61.250 visiteurs accueillis

BRAFA 2017 : 61.250 visiteurs accueillis


BRAFA 2017
La BRAFA 2017 s’est clôturée sur un nouveau record de fréquentation
Photo : Emmanuel Crooÿ

La Brafa a refermé ses portes dimanche 29 janvier sur un nouveau record de fréquentation avec un total de 61.250 visiteurs accueillis.
« Cette nouvelle progression nous ravit », indique Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke, Président de la Brafa. « Bien que j’aie souvent répété qu’un record de fréquentation lors de chaque édition ne constitue pas un objectif en soi, cette progression constante prouve que notre événement est de plus en plus attractif, et que notre volonté d’ouverture à tous les publics porte ses fruits. J’espérais au fond de moi-même que nous franchirions cette année cette barre symbolique des 60.000 visiteurs. Ce nouveau cap ne peut que renforcer la place phare qu’occupe la Brafa parmi les plus grandes foires d’art européennes. ».
De l’avis général des 132 marchands d’art originaires de 16 pays participant à cette édition 2017, l’augmentation du public fut particulièrement sensible parmi les visiteurs étrangers. Non seulement en provenance de France, des Pays-Bas, d’Allemagne ou du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg mais aussi de pays comme la Suisse, la Grande-Bretagne ou encore la Russie dont plusieurs acheteurs importants se sont déplacés.
Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke : « Depuis plusieurs années, nous consentons des efforts importants de promotion dans ces divers pays et il semble que cette politique à long terme soit aujourd’hui récompensée. Nous ne comptons pas nous arrêter en bon chemin, car nous sommes conscients qu’il demeure encore un large potentiel à explorer. »
En termes de ventes, celles-ci apparaissent également supérieures à l’an passé. 
« Beaucoup de confrères me confient d’excellents niveaux de ventes, et aussi beaucoup de nouveaux clients. Je pense que le contexte nous est favorable car on sent que les clients ont envie de se faire plaisir tout en diversifiant leur patrimoine par l’acquisition d’une belle oeuvre d’art. La beauté peut être une alliée de la finance ! ». Et de conclure : « Tous les marchands qui ont préparé spécifiquement leur participation à la Brafa ont vu leurs efforts couronnés de succès. Le collectionneur d’aujourd’hui recherche toujours plus des oeuvres rares ou rarement montrées. C’est un défi pour tous les marchands, mais il constitue en fait l’essence de notre métier ! »
BRAFA Art Fair
www.brafa.art

February 1, 2017

Tony Cragg au Mudam Luxembourg

Tony Cragg
Mudam Luxembourg
Commissaire : Clément Minighetti
11 février - 3 septembre 2017
« La sculpture n’est qu’une méthode pour aborder notre univers, pour chercher de nouvelles formes et formuler de nouvelles questions sur le monde dans lequel nous vivons, sur la réalité. » « Mon expérience de la sculpture montre qu’elle est une chose incroyablement dynamique et mobile. Il y a quelque chose de très immédiat dans le fait de lire le matériau. » Tony Cragg
L’exposition de Tony Cragg au Mudam témoigne de la diversité et du dynamisme caractéristiques de l’oeuvre de cet artiste de renommée internationale, qui se traduit par ailleurs par une productivité hors du commun. Bien que Tony Cragg aborde les questions de forme et de matériau d’une manière que l’on pourrait qualifier de classique, il considère que n’importe quel matériau est intrinsèquement porteur de sens, d’idées et d’émotions et que, de fait, la sculpture est un support artistique tourné vers l’avenir, dont le potentiel n’a pas encore été pleinement exploité. « L’avenir de la sculpture ne fait que commencer. Son potentiel est aujourd’hui plus grand que jamais et ses possibilités n’en sont qu’à leurs débuts », déclare-t-il ainsi. Dans sa vision des choses, l’art se situe à mi-chemin entre le domaine organique de la nature et celui, fonctionnel et optimisé, de la production industrielle. C’est cet espace de liberté qui, en transcendant les demandes utilitaires, constitue pour lui la dimension explicitement politique de son art, si ce n’est de tout art. Il lui permet, avec chaque nouvelle sculpture, de donner une forme nouvelle au matériau, mais encore d’exprimer ses sentiments et ses émotions de façon sans cesse renouvelée. « Ce qui compte en sculpture, c’est la manière dont le matériau et la forme nous touchent », explique-t-il, précisant qu’elle fait appel à la réceptivité émotionnelle du spectateur, mais également à la capacité intellectuelle d’une vision analytique lui permettant de donner un sens à ce qu’il voit.

A vingt ans, Tony Cragg travaille comme assistant dans un laboratoire de recherche dans l’industrie du caoutchouc, quand son intérêt pour le dessin l’incite à poursuivre des études d’art, conclues au Royal College of Art à Londres en 1977. Ses premières oeuvres se distinguent par un dialogue avec les mouvements artistiques du moment : art minimal, art conceptuel, Land Art et Arte povera influencent un travail sculptural qui associe ready-mades, objets trouvés et matériaux « pauvres », mais qui entame déjà une interrogation, caractéristique de son travail à ce jour, sur la forme, la matière, l’objet, l’image ou encore le processus de fabrication.

La curiosité de Tony Cragg le fait expérimenter tous les matériaux imaginables, chaque sculpture se développant à partir de celle qui la précède. Ce faisant, il crée un univers sculptural dans lequel différentes « familles d’oeuvres » se ramifient, puis évoluent en parallèle pour donner naissance à d’innombrables variations qui, par moments, peuvent se croiser. Dans un premier temps, il combine ou accumule des objets trouvés en plastique et en bois, des matériaux de construction, des bouteilles, des éléments mécaniques ou autres à partir desquels il forme des motifs abstraits ou des motifs figuratifs dénaturés. Peu à peu, ses sculptures se diversifient, déployant un large spectre entre formes organiques et technoïdes sans pour autant se départir entièrement d’éléments reconnaissables. L’artiste se tourne alors progressivement vers les matériaux de la sculpture dite « classique » – plâtre, bois, bronze et pierre – sans renier son intérêt pour les matériaux nouveaux tels que la fibre de verre ou le kevlar. Cette double approche donne lieu à des sculptures d’une complexité croissante, chaque nouvelle oeuvre étant l’occasion de trouver quelque chose d’inédit, quelque chose qui le surprenne lui-même. Selon ses propres mots, il cherche les « formes manquantes », car bien qu’il ait récemment mis au point un véritable protocole de recherche des formes, il se voit comme un simple « agent » qui aide celles-ci à se constituer car elles ont une dynamique interne : « Même si ce n’est pas un processus linéaire, les choses se génèrent elles-mêmes. Il y a une sorte d’énergie auto-propagatrice, auto-génératrice qui est inhérente au matériau. » Participant de ce processus, la pratique quotidienne du dessin joue un rôle essentiel dans la recherche des formes et la réalisation des sculptures. Utilisé comme support d’abstraction et de synthèse, le dessin lui permet en effet d’étudier préalablement les questions formelles et de leur apporter des réponses lors de l’exécution de l’oeuvre en trois dimensions.

Alors même que les travaux de Tony Cragg réunis dans l’exposition au Mudam se dénotent par une grande diversité, ils sont reliés entre eux par leurs rapports au sein de son oeuvre. Dining Motions (1982) et Forminifera (1994), les deux pièces de la collection du Mudam, témoignent d’une part de l’attention que l’artiste porte depuis toujours aux relations entre forme, image et matière, et d’autre part de son intérêt pour les formes organiques et les questions de masse et de surface – un problème qu’il abordera également, quoique de manière différente, dans d’autres oeuvres. Les Early Forms et les Rational Beings représentent quant à elles deux grandes familles d’oeuvres aux nombreuses ramifications. Les premières sont dérivées de récipients de laboratoire ou similaires, qui par étirement, allongement, torsion et autres déformations deviennent des formes autonomes (et qui comprennent également des oeuvres telles que Stroke [2014] et Migrant [2015]), tandis que les secondes correspondent à des formes organiques obtenues à partir de formes géométriques par gonflement et germination. Des oeuvres telles que I’m Alive (2003) dans le Grand Hall et Making Sense (2007) procèdent également de cette typologie. Le principe de la superposition et de la stratification donne lieu à de nombreuses variations : si dans Fields of Heaven (1998), il souligne la fragilité du verre, la stratification de couches de contreplaqué collées devient bientôt une méthode qui ouvre un champ de possibilités formelles insoupçonnées. Lost in Thoughts (2012) présente le matériau en tant que tel dans sa forme et son agencement organiques, tandis que les colonnes de la série connexe des Points of View jouissent d’une grande liberté et autonomie pour évoquer des vues de profil ou des silhouettes d’objets. Enfin, le travail sur ordinateur ne facilite pas seulement l’agrandissement ou la réduction, mais permet également la fusion, la distorsion et la découpe transversale de formes, comme dans False Idols (2011), Spring (2014) et Parts of the World (2015), dont l’apparence n’a cependant été trouvée qu’au cours de la finalisation manuelle de l’oeuvre.

Tony Cragg est né en 1949 à Liverpool, il vit et travaille à Wuppertal, Allemagne.

Mudam Luxembourg - Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean
3, Park Dräi Eechelen, L-1499 Luxembourg-Kirchberg
www.mudam.lu