Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts

‘Antony Gormley’, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 21st September to 3rd December 2019 © the Artist. Photo: David Parry / © Royal Academy of Arts
‘Antony Gormley’, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 21st September to 3rd December 2019 © the Artist. Photo: David Parry / © Royal Academy of Arts

Sculpture is a physical measure, a form of corporeal thinking that can fabricate feeling. A form that can help us to think and feel in ways that we had not thought possible, as does the act of making the form. It has a bodily dimension, it is an acknowledgement to the story of its own making, while having a dialogue with viewers and the audience.

During the fall of 2019 Antony Gormley transforms the Royal Academy’s main galleries into a sequence of experiences that challenge and entices the viewer. Six tons of steel mesh, eight kilometres of coiled tubing, a gallery flooded with seawater and a body that can be walked through. Gormley is extensively praised for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that explore and examine the relationship of the human body to space. His work has developed the future opened up by sculpture since the 1960s through critical engagement with both his own body and those of others in a way that challenges important questions of where human beings stand in affiliation with nature and the cosmos.


Antony Gormley, Mother’s Pride V, 2019. Bread and wax, 306 x 209.5 x 2 cm. Installation view, ‘Antony Gormley’, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 21st September to 3rd December 2019 © the Artist. Photo: David Parry / © Royal Academy of Arts

Mother’s Pride (1982) made of bread and Land, Sea and Air (1977-1979) made of lead manifest a respectful disrespect towards minimalism. These works underline Gormley’s interest in the expressive potential of materials. He uses the materials in these works because they embody or invoke specific meanings. Clearing VII is a three-dimensional drawing in space/time that completely destroys the determination of the quadratic coordinates of a room. The viewer makes his own trajectory through the field in which there is no determined point of view. In Lost Horizon I (2008) which is a significant figurative piece in the show, forms venture at right angles and outlooks to one another from the ground, ceiling and the walls.

Antony Gormley, Clearing VII, 2019. Approximately 8 km of 12.7 mm square section 16 swg aluminium tube, dimensions variable. Installation view, ‘Antony Gormley’, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 21st September to 3rd December 2019 © the Artist. Photo: David Parry / © Royal Academy of Arts
Antony Gormley, Clearing VII, 2019. Approximately 8 km of 12.7 mm square section 16 swg aluminium tube, dimensions variable. Installation view, ‘Antony Gormley’, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 21st September to 3rd December 2019 © the Artist. Photo: David Parry / © Royal Academy of Arts

Making sculpture stems from a need to leave a trace of presence, but there is an even greater need to challenge and defy itself with silent objects that look back at us and question our materiality with their own.

‘Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy’ is curated by Martin Caiger-Smith with Sarah Lea, curator at the RA. The exhibition continues till December 3rd 2019.

Antony Gormley, Lost Horizon I, 2008. 24 cast iron bodyforms, each 189 x 53 x 29 cm. Installation view, ‘Antony Gormley’, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 21st September to 3rd December 2019. PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine © the Artist. Photo: David Parry / © Royal Academy of Arts
Antony Gormley, Lost Horizon I, 2008. 24 cast iron bodyforms, each 189 x 53 x 29 cm. Installation view, ‘Antony Gormley’, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 21st September to 3rd December 2019. PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine © the Artist. Photo: David Parry / © Royal Academy of Arts

About Shireen ikramullah

Shireen Ikramullah is a British Pakistani visual artist, art critic and museologist based in Amsterdam. She is an active member of AICA (International Association of Art Critics) and writes for several art publications worldwide such as NuktaArt Magazine, ArtNow Pakistan, DAWN Gallery section and Art Radar.