The Intolerable Condition
In Art and Revolution: Ernst Neizvestny and the role of the artist in the USSR, 1969, John Burger concludes that art has a role to play in challenging ‘the intolerable condition of inequality in the world’. Now, over fifty years later, there is far greater inequality in the world, but it remains, intolerable. Therefore art should continue, where possible, to highlight and challenge this condition.
These works represent a challenge to the condition of inequality, exploitation and oppression of the individual. I’ve used ‘The Intolerable Condition’ as an overarching title for a series of works that are intended to progress conceptually from a condition of passivity to one of revolt.
In his review of the exhibition ‘New Aspects of British Art , Venice Biennale 1952 Herbert Read referred to the work of Lyne Chadwick, Ken Armitage et al as a ‘geometry of fear’ That fear being the collective anxiety brought about by the uncertainty of a cold war nuclear age, coupled with memories of two devastating world wars. Fears and anxieties in a global context continue today unabated and multiplied.
The notion of a ‘geometry of fear’ has enormous resonance for me in my work. The idea that an abstract concept like fear might have a tangible, measurable geometry holds great sculptural appeal. My series of figure represent an attempt to explore a geometry for ideas, more precisely four ideas that progress from passivity to revolt. They are: - The Geometry of Resilience – The Geometry of Resistance – The Geometry of Rebellion – The Geometry of Revolution. Each of these ideas will be expressed as a set of figures, with specific changes in the formal language of anatomy, pose, proportion and dynamics as they proceed from one idea to the next.
The first set of figures – Resilience – are six steel pieces and six bronze pieces, might be view individually of as a group of individuals. The forms are upright and rigid, with a twisted contra-posture and upward tilt of the head.
A natural and logical progression - Resilience = Resistance = Rebellion = Revolution
DOMESTIC INTERIORS This is a series of drawings, modelled relief panels cast in plaster and ‘open reliefs’ constructed in mild steel. They represent groups of figure contained within a frame, an interior space. The spaces might be a dwelling or a place of captivity or restraint. The figures might be family groups or couples of just individuals shared circumstances. These were conceived initially as representing figure contained by forces beyond their control, such as prisoners of asylum seekers. However as I created them during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have come to be more symbolic as households in lockdown or self isolation.