The title of the exhibition explains it all; it’s a sculpture show. The label on the tin did not lie and we have been served exactly what is expected with The Shape of Things to Come. In this regard it was both strangely satisfying -- reassuring myself of what I know as contemporary sculpture, and slightly disappointing -- nothing surprised me into reevaluating sculpture, objecthood, installation. Though I know that the trajectory of art parameters do not change overnight, if this exhibition is a representation of things to come… then we will be experiencing much of the same for the next little while within the medium of sculpture/installation. Take for example Richard Wilson’s work 20:50 installed in the bottom gallery, though this work is a permanent fixture within the Saatchi Gallery one cannot remove it from the rest of the works on display. The work is truly an iconic piece that shifted the way people experience constructed space. This work also predates all the other works on display by twenty odd years. Back in the 1987 that was truly the shape of things to come marking the popularity of installation art.
What is very evident with the work on display is a focus on extremely collectable artists. Thomas Houseago exploded on the art fair circuit a few years ago and has been a hot ticket item for many collectors since then. His large plaster and found material sculptures combine two-dimensional plains with three-dimensional elements to create a range of life-size to monumental figures. The work seems to sit on the line of a gesture, almost like a life drawing exercise where the artist is locating the figure through his lines on a page. The combination of several boards with loose mark-making lines and the handling of plaster gives way to the immediacy of rendering. The figures become a blend of something monstrous and something human, a sketch detailing figuration, and three-dimensional weights that pull the elements together whilst giving the objects their own autonomy.
Peter Buggenhout’s work The Blind Leading the Blind was one of the works which nudged against the sidelines of working within a sculptural medium. The remarkable thing is that he has done this entirely located within the idea of the object. His work is a contemporary look at ruination. These modern day objects are compacted into large meteorite configurations and treated as if covered by dust, debris and dirt. His work becomes a slight post-apocalyptic echo of Franz West while satirically paying homage to the readymades of the dadaists. Viewers are confronted with accepting this work as a) a legitimate artwork and b) a legitimate object. The work also extends itself by leading the viewer into a narrative of how this object has come to be manifested.
-- David Yu
All images courtesy The Saatchi Gallery
Images:Thomas Houseago, Joanne, 2005, plaster, hemp, steel, graphite, 124.5 x 58.4 x 86.4 cm; Peter Buggenhout, The Blind Leading The Blind #26, 2008, Mixed media and disposable material covered with household dust, 134.5 x 166 x 150 cm
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