A major new exhibition by the Turner Prize winning sculptor Sir Antony Gormley opens in London at White Cube Bermondsey. This is the sequel to his exhibition Model held there in 2012, The Exhibition considers the degree to which we are measured by and measure ourselves against the scale and density of our built environment. Gormley has configured the gallery space into 15 discrete chambers to create a series of dramatic physiological encounters in the form of a labyrinth. Visitors will face a choice of passages through differently sized, uniquely lit spaces where each room challenges or qualifies the experience of the last.
Gormley’s concerns with urban, corporate expansion are most clearly articulated in the expansive installation Sleeping Field (2015–16). Composed of nearly 600 small iron sculptures, at first glance the work looks like a carpet of charcoal grey blocks or a condensed landscape of high and low-rise buildings. Up close, the forms resolve into hundreds of individual bodies at rest. The title of this sculpture touches upon Gormley’s belief that we have become sleeping servants of a system that denies collective imagination.
The notion of scale, in particular the scale of a human body in relation to architectural space, is explored in works like Run (2016), a singular, continuous cast iron line which indicates the space of one room in snaking, 90-degree turns. In describing this work, Gormley states, ‘it is both object and space, inviting one to look at it as a thing but to experience it as a place’.
In contrast to the dispersed mass of Sleeping Field, the work Block (2016), an immense 13-tonne concrete block-work sculpture describes an abstract, contemplative body in an attitude of withdrawal and reflection. Two other sculptures, formed from industrially-cut steel plate slabs, playfully represent the form of the classical nude and the tottering stacks of blocks a child might make. In Passage (2016), Gormley creates a 12 metre-long tunnel, whose shape is modelled on a standing human form, suggesting a correlative for the interior of the body and offering a journey into darkness and the unknown.
Gormley’s approach to exhibition-making is as a test ground for perception, focusing on the mapping of our subjective experience and the potential of the viewers’ projected empathy. Fit aims to ‘make a show that allows forms and materials to work on us, releasing us from any expectations of what sculpture is and how it might act on us’.
Antony Gormley was born in 1950 in London, England, where he lives and works. He has participated in major group exhibitions including the International Sculpture Biennale of Carrara, Italy (2008 and 2010); the Sydney Biennale (2006); Documenta VIII, Kassel, Germany (1987) and the Venice Biennale (1982 and 1986). Solo exhibitions include Forte Belvedere, Florence (2015); Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2014); Middelheim Museum, Antwerp (2013); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Rio di Janeiro and Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010); Artium, Valencia (2009); Kunsthall Rotterdam, Musée d’Art Moderne De Saint-Etienne Metropole, France and MARCO, Monterrey, Mexico (2008); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); MADRE, Naples (2006); Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (2004); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England (2003) and the National History Museum, Beijing (2003). Major public works include the Angel of the North, Gateshead, England; Another Place, Crosby Beach, England; Exposure, Lelystad, The Netherlands; Chord, MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994 and made an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1997. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and has been a Royal Academician since 2003.