Conrad Shawcross, the youngest living Royal Academician has unveiled his long awaited 14-metre-tall, 26-tonne sculpture in Kings Cross London. The work is fashioned from raw steel which forms a massive geometric structure. The piece titled ‘Paradigm’ was inspired by scientific theories perfect for its setting in front of a new biomedical research centre near the Euston Road.
This is Shawcross’ most ambitious work to date. The commission is the result of a long and carefully considered submission process by the Crick working with Artwise Curators, for a new sculpture which would reflect the ambitions of this new ambitious scientific institute in the centre of London. The winning proposal was selected from submissions by a number of international artists, presented to the Crick art panel headed by the Nobel Prize winner and Director of the Crick, Sir Paul Nurse.
Paradigm is one of the tallest public sculptures in central London at an imposing 14 metres high, comprised of a twisting stack of tetrahedral blocks made of weathering steel. The work will be a considerable feat of engineering and continues the artist’s long standing collaboration with structural engineering practice Structure Workshop. Starting from a base of less than one metre wide, each subsequent tetrahedral form grows steadily in volume until the ultimate tetroid is a monumental five metres in width. Angular, daring and colossal, this newly commissioned work of public art will be a welcome culmination of art, science and engineering standing before a building that will pioneer new frontiers of biomedical research.
Shawcross, said: “Paradigm is a bold totem for this exciting new addition to London. It is a beacon for progress and endeavour but contains fallibility and should serve as a constant reminder of the precariousness of knowledge. The writing of the scientific philosopher Thomas Kuhn inspired the title of the work as he described in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that in order for ideas to progress old paradigms need to be toppled by new ones. I chose weathered steel as the material for the sculpture due its utilitarian properties and its rich, honest surface making it true to the industrial pallet of the area.”
Paradigm is the culmination of a prolific year for the young British artist which included the major courtyard commission at the Royal Academy during the Summer Exhibition, solo exhibitions at the New Art Centre, Roche Court and Victoria Miro Gallery, and a large scale architectural response (The Optic Cloak) for the Greenwich Peninsula, which is due to be completed in April 2016. The commission for the Crick will surely consolidate his stature, both as a major name on the international stage and as the leading light of a new generation of British sculptors.
Shawcross was born in 1977 in London, where he currently resides and works. The artist, who was elected as a Royal Academician in 2013, has recently had solo presentations at ARTMIA Foundation, Beijing (2014); the Roundhouse, London (2013); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); MUDAM, Luxembourg (2012); Science Museum, London (2011 – 2012); Turner Contemporary, Margate (2011); and Oxford Science Park (2010). In 2012 Shawcross, along with Chris Ofili and Mark Wallinger, was invited to create works inspired by Titian’s masterpieces for the project Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, an ambitious collaboration with the National Gallery and Royal Ballet for the Cultural Olympiad. The artist’s robotic installation The ADA Project took place at the Vinyl Factory Space, London, during October 2014 and his work Timepiece has served as an anchoring symbol of the 2014 – 2015 concert season Interplay at Berwaldhallen, Stockholm.