Imbued with an appearance of scientific rationality, Conrad
Shawcross's sculptures explore subjects that lie on the borders of geometry and
philosophy, physics and metaphysics. Attracted by failed quests for knowledge
in the past, he often appropriates redundant theories and methodologies to
create ambitious structural and mechanical montages, using a wide variety of
materials and media. His forms are inspired by different technologies including
the nautical and the audio-visual as well as a range of natural forces. His
mysterious machines and structures remain enigmatic, filled with paradox and
wonder. Some have an absurdist melancholy feel, while others tend to the
Shawcross has also experimented with ideal geometries and topologies; these constructions are conceived as systems, sometimes modular, sometimes mechanical, which could be theoretically extended infinitely into space. In these and other sculptures, Shawcross pays tribute to some of the great pioneers and analysts, and considers specific moments or figures from the past. Paradigm (Ode to the Difference Engine), 2006 references the life of Charles Babbage; Space Trumpet, 2007 is inspired by the history of early acoustic mapping; while Slow Arc Inside a Cube, 2008 takes its inspiration from the scientist Dorothy Hodgkin's discovery of the structure of pig insulin.
More recently, Shawcross has developed the scale of his practice, taking on architectural spaces with work that combines epic scope and poetic grace. Timepiece was a major new commission for the Roundhouse in 2013 in which Shawcross transformed the iconic main space of this historic London building into a vast timekeeping device.
Shawcross was born in 1977 in London, where he currently resides and works. He has recently had solo presentations at 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). His work has also been exhibited internationally at institutions and events including the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); Grand Palais, Paris (2013); Hayward Gallery, London (2013); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2012); National Gallery, London (2012); Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel (2012); Centre d'Art Bastille, Grenoble (2012); Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence (2011); Park De Oude Warande, Tilburg (2011); Palazzo Fortuny, Venice (2011); Gervasuti Foundation, Venice (2011); CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid (2011); Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania (2011); and Kunsthal in Amersfoort (2010). Shawcross's first public realm commission Space Trumpet installed in the atrium of the refurbished Unilever Building in London in 2007 won the Art & Work 2008 Award for a Work of Art Commissioned for a Specific Site in a Working Environment, and in 2009 he was awarded the Illy prize for best solo presentation at Art Brussels. From 2009-2011 Shawcross was Artist in Residence at the Science Museum, London. 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.