Film by Miles Corley of Linden Hall Studios on the occasion of “Transformations”, joint show with Gary Wragg:
The following is an extract from Matt Dennis’ review of “Transformations” at Linden Hall Studio, published on the Instantloveland website:
Three out of four of Greenwood’s sculptures have been made to be hung: and on entering the gallery, it is impossible not to register a sense of shock, that they are suspended there, in all their brute materiality, interrupting the sightlines to Wragg’s paintings, and demanding they be looked at. Of course, hanging artworks from the ceiling isn’t surprising in itself: there’s Calder’s mobiles, for example, or Rauschenberg’s early ‘Fetish’ assemblages, or Nauman’s upside-down cast wax heads; not to mention any number of installations that feature hundreds of similarly-sized objects suspended by fishing wire. What is surprising is seeing it done to welded steel sculptures whose weight, even when unbolted into their constituent parts, required a team of helpers to get the work into the gallery and up the stairs to the upper storey.
The striking thing about encountering these sculptures in the flesh is the degree to which they demonstrate willingness to throw out the rulebook that governs three-dimensional work with high-modernist lineage- and don’t appear to suffer in the slightest as a result. Viewed on the Linden Hall website, it’s far from clear what kind of physical presence they have; if ever a group of three-dimensional works confirmed the truth of the old cliché about photographs not doing sculpture justice, it’s this one. Seen only as images, they appear problematic, in a number of ways. To begin with, there’s the issue of how they’re hung: suspended from hooks. To have made the hanging system invisible- via some sort of super-strong, barely visible wires, say- wouldn’t have worked, as that would have been to court illusionism. To remain true to the materiality of the sculpture, whatever gets used has to be as fully available to the sense of sight as any other part of the work, and the double-ended hooks Greenwood employs are certainly that; but they are all function; their form is inert, and gives nothing to the sculpture seen as a whole.
Next, there’s this to consider: the set of things-that-sit-on-the-floor is pretty much limitless: and so, a floor-based abstract sculpture tends not to be reminiscent of anything else in particular, other than itself. The set of things-that-hang-off-a-hook is far smaller, and so a hanging abstract sculpture is much more likely to evoke unwanted associations with other members of that set, such as chandeliers, hanging baskets, carcasses in the butcher’s shop window, even (most unflattering of all for sculpture in metal) the magnetic grab at the scrapyard.
And then there are the implications of their no longer being on the floor, which can be understood as both physical and psychological: by not being grounded, surely they surrender agency, and appear lightweight?
It’s a relief, and a pleasure, to be confronted with the work, and have all doubts answered. The three hanging sculptures have such concentrated presence, and project such an overwhelming sense of their every part having been entirely seen and felt in relation to every other part, that they seem to generate their own gravity, like gyroscopes; this has the effect of appearing to render the floor beneath them, the hanging hooks, and all conceivable connection to things other than themselves irrelevant, and therefore all but invisible. They demand the longest, hardest kind of looking-at, looking-around, and looking-into; and they reward it with an unfolding experience of fresh discoveries for the eye to make. From one viewpoint, Big Monmouth seems to gather itself into a single breaking wave of metal; another quarter-turn around it, and it unravels into a stupefyingly complex sequence of torqued forms, each differently angled and uniquely articulated. In Kwoke 166 the bolts, the spot-welds, and the molten, crenellated edges of its component parts are as much its language as the parts themselves; and this declarative matter-of-factness is further emphasised by the lumps of wood and plastic dotted throughout the structure, and by the frankness of the red metal eye that receives the hanging hook. Most declarative of all, however, is the big cut-out ‘four-leafed clover’ right next to it, which perches there, daring the viewer to read it as that, rather than, say, ‘cruciform with four ovals’. With this, and with the little ‘fish’ that attaches itself to the trailing filament in Tree at Ornans, the one out of the four pieces that sits on the gallery floor, it’s as if Greenwood is asking, as he is with the raising of his sculptures up into the air, how fast and loose is it possible to play with abstraction? What can be added, and what can be got rid of? And what can he get away with?
Two reviews of “Transformations“:
“Transformations” is an exhibition of sculptures by Robin Greenwood and paintings by Gary Wragg
Curated by Sam Cornish
From Sunday, 06 May 2018 – Sunday, 27 May 2018
Private View Saturday 12th May, 2 – 4 pm.
at Linden Hall Studio
32 St George’s Road, Deal, Kent CT14 6BA
01304 360 411