Millbank, London SW1P 4RG, United Kingdom
July 3, 2009 - September 6, 2009
by Nicholas James
Posted by Nicholas James
| tags: landscape photography performance sculpture
The idea of the walk as a sculpture is first recorded in a photograph of 1967, of a line made by walking. The artist spied a likely field from a train and broke his journey to make the first impression. The radical invention was confirmed by another; a broad cross cut through a field of daisies in 1968. The idea is complete and self-fulfilling; Long carefully plans and carries through his itinerary, the physical effort of which becomes a measure of his personal capacity. ‘To walk across a country from coast to coast, for example, is both a measure of the land itself – its size, shape and terrain, and also of myself, how long it takes me and not somebody else.’ RL
And the sculptures are conceived with equal discretion; a rocky outcrop in the Himalayas yields a white line of upturned stones. Attention is drawn to the scatter to the side and the face of snow capped hills, and to the right a dream-like mound of banked snow. The landscape of deserted terrain speaks with a quiet potency. A circle in Ireland 1975 stages a rough cast arrangement on a sombre plateau before an overcast horizon. The atmosphere is romantic but the art is realist.
-- Nicholas James
Six sculptures span a large show space at the Tate; the impression is of a resonant natural beauty, in particular the Norfolk Flint Circle 1990, where white coated stones with their clipped and chopped grey facets cluster within a broad circle in vibrant chatter. Long makes a distinction between his records of outdoor works and walks, and pieces made for exhibition. Where photographic records feed the imagination an encounter with the actual sculptures feeds the senses. Red Slate Circle is made of spiky vertical wedges arranged within a fine red chalk guideline. The clustering of like stones sparks internal conversations. Intervals energise sheared blocks of Grey Slate Line 1980. Colour acts in the Black White Blue Purple Circle, where the white stones penetrate like a kind of river. Seen together to sculptures spread like contained pools. As it goes on the artist grows with the landscape, the recent works opening up to magnetic fields of tidal and lunar elements that seem to vibrate song lines across the planet. There is a sense of wholeness to the collection of beautiful signs formed by material substance and an ethereal imagination.
All Images Courtesy The Artist and The Tate
Images from Top to Bottom: (Richard Long, A Line in Scotland 1981, © Copyright the artist; Richard Long, Dusty Boots Line 1988; Richard Long, A Line in the Himalayas 1975, © Copyright the artist)