The interesting thing about David Rickard’s work is not that he leaves large chunks of its production up to chance, but how much structure and pattern surrounds this surrender to the unforeseeable. In this small yet well-put-together solo show at Sumarria Lunn, Rickard relinquishes part of his artistic control and lets the unknown creep in; the two are collaborators and the results are surprisingly coherent.
Exhaust takes main stage in the show – a performance piece in which Rickard exhaled into metallic balloons for a full twenty-four hours, assembling them into a silver tower of captured breath. Rickard’s need to breathe and the passage of time set the parameters of the aesthetic, but of course he couldn’t foresee how much he would exhale over the day, so the volume and shape of the piece was determined as it happened. We don’t see the balloons here, but photographic evidence of the event – the transitory nature of the piece cemented into digital images that can be reproduced ad infinitum.
The act of rolling a dice determined the shape of Rickard’s sculpture Random Relatives, the matrix-like web of dice and metal rods that is reminiscent of molecular geometry. Randomly generated yet systematically structured, it implies that the two are more intrinsically linked than we may think. Meanwhile pigeon faeces map out what look like astronomical charts in Constellation, playfully linking the celestial with the more… earthy.
In Capacity, Rickard loads shelving units with lead until they give out – not so much chance, but probability is at work here. The folded lead sheets look like fabric, belying their true weight, which eventually buckles their supporting structure. This setting up and then breaching of frameworks is what informs Rickard’s work, as he seeks to test his materials and concepts under demanding conditions that will see them collapse or adapt.
-- Laura Bushell
All images courtesy Sumarria Lunn Gallery