DEFORMATION | TRANSFORMATION: Sean Henry, Laurence Edwards and Brian Taylor


deformation-all

3rd December – 5th February 2017

Messums Wiltshire is delighted to announce the second exhibition in their programme of three shows examining the Human Form, through the medium of dance, sculpture and sound. Commencing this series of exhibitions in November with the performance of Conceal | Reveal by Russell Maliphant’s internationally renowned contemporary dance group, the final exploration in this series will be Inside | Outside, the UK premier of the sound installation, Song of the Human, by the English composer Pete M Wyer, opening on 11 February, 2017.

The exhibition, Deformation | Transformation opened on the 3 December brings together 3 British sculptors who explore the human condition in our contemporary society.

In the last part of the 20th century, culture changed significantly from being defined by relatively fixed co-ordinates to more fluid concepts. The same applies to the artist’s use of the human body and this observation is the starting point and dialogue for the exhibition of works by Laurence Edwards, Sean Henry and Brian Taylor. Using the process of creating sculpture to convey the human condition in all its fragility, each artist articulates the subject through different approaches to the figure.Whether it be through the vigorously expressive modelling and painting of Sean Henry’s contemporary figures, the gestural expressionism of Brian Taylor’s tormented models or Laurence Edward’s exploration of the masculine figure through the blurring of boundaries between man and nature; the themes of isolation, introversion and mental struggle is a continual subtext.Using as a starting point, the traditional process of modelling in clay, a common language used by each artist is the stripping away of the identifiable elements of their subjects and replacing these with an individual and powerful metaphorical discourse on the question of human identity.
 
One of Sean Henry’s conceptual starting points for his realistic figures is the idea of the ‘anonymous presence’ – akin to the concept of the ‘unknown soldier’ in art, but with ‘everyman’ (or woman) cast in the role. His figures often convey a rich interior life, but we know nothing about them. Never exactly life size, Henry’s figures are modeled in clay, plaster and bronze and then painted.
He uses photographs of people that interest him or people that he knows, but in both cases they are rarely, if ever, identified – instead given titles like Seated Figure or Standing Man. They exude a sense of familiarity and yet they are strangers, aloof and self-contained, their gaze fixed and unaware, disconnecting them from their surroundings. They become an exploration of contemporary human life.
Small touches such as a collar caught under a jacket lapel, mean we interpret or imagine the figure’s inner thoughts through an interrogation of their physical appearance. When not locating his sculptures in public places – where they become absorbed into everyday activity – Henry places his works on plinths, reminiscent of the monumental public sculptures of 19th Century heroes, now unknown to their present audience.
In the outdoor work Catafalque, 2003, Henry subtly creates tension through the mix of subject matter and title — a relaxed, healthy looking young man lies atop a catafalque gazing at the sky—a catafalque being the temporary structure upon which a body or coffin is placed prior to a funeral.

 

SEATED FIGURE 2015 Jesmonite, exterior paint 96 x 64 x 46cm Artist Proof Available in bronze in an edition of 6 POA        UNTITLED 2016 Bronze, oil paint Each figure 45 cm high Edition 5/ 9 £7,000 + VAT (each)
 Seated Figure, 2015                                                  Untitled, 2016     
SLEEPER 2014 Not for sale Jesmonite, oil paint 109 x 42 x 31 cm Artist’s Prototype AP Available in Bronze in an edition of 6 POA        Sean-Henry-SEATED MAN 2010 Bronze, external paint, Cor-Ten steel bench Overall dimensions: 237 x 120 x 149 cm Edition 3 of 6 POA
Sleeper, 2014                                                               Seated Man, 2010
MAN AND CHILD 2001 Ceramic, oil paint (For ceramic or bronze) 80 x 33 x 22 cm Original prototype AP Available in painted bronze Edition of 6 £22,500 + VAT         a6580122
Man and Child, 2001                                                 Standing Man, 2009   
Sean-Henry-CATAFALQUE 2003 Bronze, exterior paint, Cor-Ten steel 400 x 200 x 190 cm Artist’s Proof Edition of 4 POA
Catafalque, 2003

 

Always working from drawings and life models, Brian Taylor’s life size sculptures of anguished figures often in anatomically difficult poses, reflect a classical tradition indebted to Rodin and Medardo Rosso but are imbued with a physical and emotional tension, reminiscent of Francis Bacon’s contorted figures.Rigorous in his planning, having developed a detailed measuring system, he preferred to start with a full size clay version and then make smaller copies. The anguish presented in Taylor’s figures, The Dance of Lily Pier, circa 1968-71 is palpable even before we are aware that throughout the late 60s and 70s he often used models from among the homeless of South London.One of his most regular being Lily Pier – previously a student at Camberwell College of Arts, where he taught – who had become homeless through her struggle with the torment of mental instability. The academic process of sculpting these models was also a channel through which Taylor could resolve the turmoil and agony of a violent father and turbulent childhood and adolescence. In part, each work at this time being the essence of a self-portrait.

Brian-Taylor-LILY PIER DANCING, circa1968-71 bronze 127 x 122 x 41 cm 1 of an edition of 10 £16,850 + VAT         Brian-Taylor-DEBBIE, STANDING FIGURE circa 1980 Bronze 171 x 153 x 81 cm 1 of an edition of 10 £28,500 + VAT
 Lily Pier Dancing, circa 1968-71                            Debbie, Standing Figure, c1980
Brian-Taylor-THE DANCE OF LILY PIER 1968-71 Bronze 112 x 102 x 41 cm 1 of an edition of 10 £18,850 + VAT         LILY PIER DANCING - CROUCHING circa1968 -71 bronze 84 x 83 x 41 cm 1 of an edition of 10 £18,850 + VAT
The Dance of Lily Pier, 1968-71                              Lily Pier Dancing-Crouching c1968-71
Brian-Taylor-Figure falling Backwards 1979 bronze 92 x 117 x 140 cm 1 of an edition of 10 £22,500 + VAT
Figure Falling Backwards, 1979
 
In contrast, Edwards does not use models for his figures, nor does he have a preset understanding of the final form when embarking on a new work. Being one of a few sculptors who cast their own sculptures, Edwards remains intimately involved with the development of each work at every stage.His strongly masculine figures evolved sometimes over years, through the complex making process, which embraces traditional methods of clay modelling, the lost wax process and finally casting in his own foundry. The different elements of works may remain in one of the making stages for months or even years before their final direction is conceived. During their making, he may loose the original form several times as they pass through the various stages, thus allowing the element of chance to direct him towards the final form.The figures titled, Bubble Wrap l, 2016 and Bubble Wrap ll, 2016, explore the sense of how bound we are to our physicality as well as the examination of the transference of material and drapery into bronze. Human anatomy, the process of entropy and the metamorphosis of form and matter fascinates Edwards. Through the random mixing of Suffolk grasses, seeds and other organic matter from his surrounding landscape, into the clay modelling process, his figures are transformed into something allegorical. Edwards’s hauntingly, mythic, Catcher, 2016, in which the detritus of nature is fused to the human form, raises the question of whether man is in a state of evolution or devolution, vulnerability or strength.

 

CATCHER 2016 Bronze 304 x 175 x 65 cm No 2 in a series of 8 POA
 Catcher, 2016
MIND OVER MATTER (LYING MAN), 2015 bronze 126 x 183 x 61 cm series of 5 POA
Mind Over Matter (Lying Man), 2015  
THE CARRIER 2013 Bronze - 1 of a series of 4 96 x 546 x 89 cm POA
 The Carrier, 2013   
SYLVAN MAN 2015 bronze 142 x 139 x 66 cm series of 5 POA        BUBBLE WRAP I 2016 bronze 89 x 66 x 36 cm 1 of a series of 9 £12,500 + VAT
Sylvan Man, 2015                                                          Bubble Wrap I, 2016
BUBBLE WRAP II 2016 bronze 83 x 41 x 43 cm 1 of a series of 9 £12,500 + VAT        CROUCHING MAN IIl 2015 bronze, 100 x 75 x 43 cm Series of 9 POA
Bubble Wrap II, 2016                                                    Crouching Man III, 2015     
 

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