Antony Gormley body print – crude oil and petroleum jelly. I love the fact that my camera has, quite randomly, formed a star above his crucifix shaped body.
An exhibition of new prints by Antony Gormley, one of Britain’s most widely acclaimed artists, will be unveiled from 13 May – 30 July 2016. Marking his first project and exhibition with the Alan Cristea Gallery, Antony Gormley has made a series of works that consider how our physical freedom and imaginative potential is increasingly conditioned by the built environment.
Installed across both galleries are a number of large woodblock prints based on seven distinct body poses. They reinterpret anatomy in the language of architecture and relate to a key work in the artist’s recent practice, Expansion Field (2014) which applies the principles of an expanding universe to the subjective space of the body. At nearly three metres in height, the prints are made from blocks of sawn plywood to create multiple, ghost-like impressions of a bodily architecture.
The Woodblocks are interspersed with a series of crude oil and petroleum jelly Body Prints (pictured). The transfer is achieved by Gormley falling directly onto the paper, the weight of his body leaving a corresponding print. The sacral use of crude oil as representative of the “blood of the earth” highlights our dependency on the planet’s solar memory.
Experienced in dialogue with each other, the tension between the immediacy of the Body Prints and the elusiveness of the multi-layered Woodblocks is made apparent. Whether through the indexical trace of wood or skin, both series of prints register, like a shadow, footprint or photograph, a lived moment in time.
Alongside are two further series of prints which also explore the fundamentals of printmaking. Ten aquatints (Matrix I – X) constructed from single plates carry the silhouette of architectural blocks printed one on top of the other. This accumulation of black conveys a sense of inner embodied darkness. Each plate is created with rosin ground by hand, the resulting particles gently sifted through a sieve before being heated to make a granular ground.
The aquatints are juxtaposed with a suite of linear etchings made with a hard needle. Whilst they return to a graphic mode of representation, they also evoke states of embodiment and freedom; an enmeshment within a bounded body and release into space.
This woodblock faces the body print at the top of this post, across the gallery floor.
Marvellous work across these large body prints and wood blocks to small framed linear etchings made with a hard needle… Strong, clear, uncomplicated work that are all the more beautiful for their simplicity and directness.