Inspiring Artist – Antony Gormley
I’m so glad I was able to catch the Antony Gormley show at the Royal Academy of Arts show while I was visiting London. When you visit London there are so many things to do that you really can’t do it all. I’d been running around the East End all morning but I said let me just check if there are any tickets even available and there were. I came across the first piece of this show Steel Baby while I was running to get inside for my ticketed time. I stopped in my tracks when I noticed a sculpture of a small new born baby curled up on the ground. You could walk right up to it. I didn’t take a photo unfortunately but found this one with a Google search. It struck me that it looked so out of place and vulnerable. It made me think about how that’s how we all come into this world, small, vulnerable and so dependent on someone taking care of all our needs. The placement of that one piece told me that I wasn’t going to be disappointed by this show. The over arching theme to the show is about being human and connections between our bodies and the earth. There was a silhouette of a curled up body made with bites out of pieces of bread. Another piece appeared to be drawing directly on the wall with clay or clay colored chalk. It resembled a finger print but the precision of this drawing was stunning and mesmerizing especially in the center where it seemed to be undulating.
It is said that his work is investigating the relationship of the human body to space. What does it mean to be in a body and to take up space? His piece Lost Horizon fills one massive gallery with cast iron sculptures of the artist’s body scattered around the room, coming out at 90 degree angles from the walls and stuck to the ceiling.
The human scale of the repeated body forms and the unconventional and unnatural configuration of the bodies is a bit jarring and unsettling. They seem foreboding yet their nudity makes them feel vulnerable as well.
Matrix III fills another gallery with a massive amount of interlocking steel grids that hover over head. I think I read that he dimensions are somehow based on the human form. But I think the way it levitates when it shouldn’t be possible and how it makes you feel uncomfortable when you walk under is more to the point he’s trying to make.
The piece called Cave is a jumble of steel boxes that fill and spill out of the gallery. They are actually meant to represent a figure laying down with one foot sticking out of the gallery on one end and a hand sticking out a doorway on the other side. The viewer is invited to enter this piece through a short, narrow and dark tunnel that curves before it opens up to a large space with light spilling in from an opening over head.
The piece titled Host is a huge gallery filled with mud and sea water that comments on our relationship to nature. The contained body of water (funny that it’s called a body of water) creates beautiful reflections and a chill is felt coming from it that would not be able to be replicated by any other means.
There are tables of the artist’s sketch books that spans 45 years and give you a little peak inside his mind. Sorry I didn’t photograph them.
The pièce de ré·sis·tance is a room filled with scrolls of back aluminum tube that are held in by the walls and ceilings. It fills the room and looks like a huge 3D scribble. Once again the viewer is invited to complete the piece. The interaction once you enter is inevitable as you try to figure out the route of lest resistance to successfully exit on the other side without getting hopelessly tangled up. I was alone so a selfie was in order to document my participation in this shared experience with those that came through it before me and those that will come through it after me.