Sunday, 9 April 2017

Tony Cragg: A Rare Category of Objects at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

"A ‘radical materialist’, Cragg defines sculpture as a ‘rare category of objects’, and takes a taxonomic approach to his own practice, something which is reflected in the exhibition. 

The wit and will to analyse the properties of all of the planet’s resources and use them to make new things is unique to human beings, along with the intuition to sort, order and categorise the things that exist and that we bring into existence.

Cragg’s extraordinary career has its roots in a fascination for, and exploration of, the possibilities of the material world.

From the small scale to the monumental, Cragg’s prolific practice is the outcome of a constantly questioning and experimental symbiotic process of thought and manual making, which always starts with drawing. With the support of his studio, Cragg makes his sculptures by hand, each evolution of thought taking form and inspiring the next. His intuition to sort and categorise, evident in his childhood fossil collection, is expressed in the significant early stacked series in which the accumulated content of his studio, including stones, wood, and books, are formed into geological-like sculptures."

I admire the high level of craftmanship that goes into making Cragg's work. It is clear from his sculptures that he has a great understanding of the materials he uses. For example, in the sculpture above, the form appears to work with the natural layers and curves within the wood itself.

I enjoy his relatively simple sculpture made from circular metal components of decreasing size (see image below). It is one of the few items in the exhibition that shows his use of found objects. These objects each have a history; they reference the time in which the work has been made, adding another dimension to the work. 

Another piece using found objects was the sculpture covered in playing dice. In this instance, it appeared as though the sculptural form had been made from one material, which had then been covered completely in dice. This sculpture seems slightly at odds with the others as it appears as if the dice have been used to 'decorate' the surface as opposed to being constructed from them.

Overall, I was disappointed by the lack of variety with this exhibition. Sculptures throughout the exhibition share the same kind of shapes and materials and there was a limited amount of development from one room within the gallery to the next. I know that Cragg has produced work that I found more interesting than what was exhibited at YSP, and I am frustrated that the exhibition did not show a broader, more varied range of work.                                                                                           

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