Conrad Shawcross: Sequential
Victoria Miro is delighted to present a new body of work by Conrad Shawcross, in the artist's second solo presentation with the gallery. Occupying both floors the exhibition emphasises the artist's ongoing enquiry into the concepts of sequence and repetition of form. Situated on the borders of geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics, Shawcross's works appropriate often redundant methodologies and theories to create ambitious structural montages. Sequential further experiments with ideal geometries, topologies and mathematical ratios; here these constructions are conceived as sequential systems and all deal with the problems and challenges of envisioning information and the invisible.
The Blind Aesthetic, a major new light work, forms the centrepiece of the lower gallery. Housed in a large glass vitrine stands a complex mechanical arm, at the end of which is a single light travelling at significant speed. The arm moves through a series of stepped ratios based on harmonics, creating a sequence of loops of light described in mathematics as torus knots. The speed and intensity of the light causes its path to burn onto the retina, and thus for this geometry to be revealed fleetingly to the viewer. In the same glass box but divided by a wall is a second, smaller chamber containing a simple desk and stool together with a sequence of small models made by an absent inhabitant. A significant discrepancy exists between the "blind" models that have been created in the second chamber, and what is actually taking place in the unobservable first chamber next door.
Linking the lower and upper floors through the gallery's dramatic architectural void is Skein Cone, a large suspended sculpture that elaborates on the formal rather than mechanical elements of Shawcross's ongoing rope machine series. A complex steel structure divides and subdivides out over a spherical plane resulting in hundreds of individual nodes to each of which is tied a coloured woollen yarn or skein that is pulled down to a shared focal point at the centre of the spherical plane above. Less empirical and more poetic than his usual aesthetic, Skein Cone attempts to convey essential aspects of gravity, space and light.
In the gallery upstairs the artist will install a grid of sixteen sculptures comprising of four sets of four works, all of which reinforce the exploration of series and sequences in Shawcross's practice. A set of geometrically rigorous Perimeter Studies exploit the properties of the dodecahedron (a regular twelve-sided solid). These are shown together with a new series in welded bronze that take the twenty-sided icosohedron as their fundamental shape. Both groups of works are preoccupied with ideas of the big bang and thus can be seem as radiant diagrams of expansion or contraction.
The third set in the grid is entitled Fraction and is a series of spiraling conal forms that seek to visually represent the mathematics of sound, and are best described as three-dimensional descriptions of chords falling into silence. Again, each piece is similar in form but differ subtly in the binary harmonic ratio and therefore the musical chord they represent. The final series tends more towards the organic with Harmonic Swarf Drawings, a set of four nylon sculptures that are created from a tangled, coiling length of swarf that describes the perplexing relation between the centre and periphery of a spinning drill and conjure beautiful patterns from the invisible, and like the Fraction series, relate to the chord ratios within the harmonic spectrum.