Arriving recently for a stay at the excellent Ham Yard Hotel near Piccadilly (reviewed here) I was surprised and delighted to find a spectacular new Tony Cragg sculpture ‘Group’ gracing the heart of the eponymous Yard – a mini oasis where Soho relaxes post work, and chic revellers spill out from the hotel’s stylish bar.
Dominating the space is a spectacular giant bronze from this Turner Prize winning artist. Resembling wood or stone it could – but not quite – be a block transplanted from the Grand Canyon or a stump of weathered wood, and will be familiar to anyone who has seen Cragg’s work. Working with stone, wood, glass, stainless steel, aluminium, cast bronze/iron, and found objects, Cragg is constantly pushing to find new relations between people and the material world. His sculptures lie somewhere between plastic imagination and solid reality.
Coincidentally, I had already planned to visit Blain Southern’s airy new Hanover Square gallery nearby where Cragg is curating an exhibition that features three renowned German artists, all alumni at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf where he is a long-standing Professor.
With a predominantly industrial aesthetic, each artist has found different ways to explore the use of materials. Gereon Lepper creates kinetic sculptures that draw upon engineering, technology and physics. In Der Apparat fast unbewegt, two electric motors controlled by a timer, provide a surge of energy to large propellers producing a roaring inferno of sound. As the power is cut, the noise and activity subside – the work is a mechanical drama that explores energy and inertia.
Drawing on his background in design, animation and computer programming, Andreas Schmitten creates sculptures and installations which he describes as ‘props from another, undetermined time’. A new sculptural light installation Prop No. 2 is characteristic of Schmitten’s work, which lies somewhere between installation, autonomous sculpture and model.
Exploring contrasting ideas of weightlessness and mass with his series of ‘Heavy Air’ sculptures, Mathias Lanfer has used industrial technology and product engineering to create Dicke Luft II. A steel frame is married with a perspex dome that has been blown into soft curves – the opaque dome acting as a counterpoint to the steel block. Heavily influenced by his previous work in plastics factories, aluminium pressing plants and the car industry, Lanfer manipulates materials in order to challenge our preconceived ideas of their industrial nature.
Curated by Tony Cragg is at Blain Southern until 29 August 2015. For more information visit www.blainsouthern.com
Tony Cragg is also at the Lisson Gallery Milan until 18 September 2015 For more information visit www.lissongallery.com
Images by CELLOPHANELAND*.