Location: 52-54 Bell Street
Preview Tuesday 29 November 6pm - 8 pm
Richard Deacon has been a leading figure in British sculpture since the 1980s. His consistently innovative use of form and his interest in materials and their manipulation make him one of the most inventive artists of our time. Throughout his career, Deacon has worked with a diverse range of materials including laminated wood, polycarbonate, leather cloth, stainless steel and most recently clay. His constructions are often of unexpected scale, ranging from the domestic to the monumental. Following his recent solo show at Tate St Ives, this exhibition entitled Range is a body of new work incorporating earthenware, photographs and stainless steel. The title draws on the multiplicities of practice within a given form as well as the diversity of media, materials, surface effects and scale employed. The title also finds literal expression in five ink drawings that are collaged into photographs of the American prairie and of mountain ranges. The eponymous Range A - G, 2005 series continues his recent exploration of clay as a sculptural material. These works exemplify the process of soft/solid carving in which form is created by cutting away and hollowing out, continuing his longstanding investigation of the boundaries between interior and exterior. Placed on unglazed plinths, the pieces evoke the creative process of their making by opposing the highly finished, lean geometry of the structures with the earthly solidity of their bases. Covered with a rich glaze both reflective and transparent, the surface plays with the sensual experience of sculpture as both tactile and visual. House Version, 2005, a large stainless steel piece, raises the issue of scale within the gallery space. The title functions as an idiosyncratic presence that both acknowledges and extends the metaphorical implications of the work. House Version is made of prefabricated stainless steel tubes of varying length, the domed ends of which interconnect to form molecule-like clusters at the vertices. The steel is sanded in complex swirls, producing a lush, fluid and constantly changing surface. In contrast, the surface of Vincent, 2005, a large, strongly geometric ceramic piece, creates a leathery effect like a well-worn shoe. The two hand-built ceramic works Ribbon Bow, 2004 are made from cut up thrown pottery elements that are reassembled to create undulating forms. Placed directly on the wooden gallery floor, the weaving in and out of their sides makes a play of inside and outside that, on a smaller scale, parallels the interplay of spaces in House Version.
Richard Deacon is acknowledged as one of the principal British sculptors who has exhibited internationally since the early 1980's. Two images above show large scale hand-built ceramic works that are inspired by the simple gestures of how the material reacts to methods of construction and manipulation, where hollowing, carving, piling and squashing become techniques in themselves. Deacon's dissatisfaction with the materials commonly associated with outdoor works drove him to explore the use of clay on a large scale, overcoming technical difficulties to produce a body of work that contradicts its materiality and scale. These highly finished forms allow for no procedural traces by which they are built, and in doing so become idealised forms where the appearance is divorced from the means of fabrication. This preoccupation with methods of construction and uses of materials is one of continual development and the search for expressing new forms. These works illustrate Deacon's abiding fascination in the relationship between the physical and the material. Richard Deacon was born in Bangor, Wales, in 1949, and lives and works in London. He is one of a generation of British sculptors who came to international recognition during the 1980's, and he was awarded Britain's Turner Prize in 1987. He has shown extensively in Europe, USA, South America and Japan. His work is represented in major public collections including Tate Gallery, London; Fonds National d'Art Contemporain, Paris; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington; Walker Art Gallery, Minneapolis; Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo; Israel Museum, Jerusalem. He was honoured with a CBE in 1999 and was appointed Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts and des Lettres in 1998. He is a member of the Royal Academy. Recent exhibitions: Richard Deacon, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, 28 Apr - 24 June 2001; Medieval Sculpture Show, Duveen Gallery, Tate Britain, London, 2002; Richard Deacon, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, 14 Oct, 2001 to Jan 2002; Between The Two Of US, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Rotterdam, 2 Dec 2001 to 25 Mar 2002; Richard Deacon, Oirel Gelf Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, 8 Dec 2001 to 7 Apr 2002.