Umeå, 14.1–24.2 2012
Galleri Andersson/Sandström begins the new year by introducing the British sculptor and installation artist Lucy Glendinning. The artist, who primarily is associated with large-scale sculptures, has attracted attention for her ability to depict the human body and find a unique expression through figurative fantasies. But where the public sculptures are imbued with movement and lightness, her other studio work is characterized by a darker side. This is the side presented in this exhibition where a psychological suggestiveness is looming.
Lucy Glendinning works in a contemporary British sculpture tradition, in which artists such as Antony Gormley or Sean Henry also can be found. Here, different aesthetic expressions are brought together under one central entry point: the human body as a semiotic medium. For Glendinning, art is the primary tool for investigating psychological and philosophical themes. Her work is thus permeated by a conceptual content, superior to the value of aesthetics. That does not imply that the artistic performance is lacking, on the contrary, she is seducing the observing eye by emphasing subtle expressions and presenting a stunning craftsmanship.
Glendinning says that her “public works have substance, but the nature of a public work is also to be easily accessible. One is supposed to pass it on the street, and in a brief moment understand what the work is communicating. In my studio pieces, I am more personal and problematizing. The result is therefore much more intimate and the thematic content heavier.” Indeed, her sculptures have a distinct introspective nature, with a beauty imbued with a disturbing atmosphere.
The artist’s way of cleverly combining paradoxical qualities are revealed in the twisted combinations of tenderness and brutality, empathety and ignorance, stillness and movement. In the work “Baby Jesus”, a number of symbolic layers from Glendinning’s psychological fabric are brought together. Here, elements from a rural middle class home in the countryside are combined with a body position automatically associated with the crucifixion, united in a hybrid child, allowing for a diversity of interpretations on values, sacrifice and tradition.
The suite “Feather Child” originates from Glendinning’s fascination with visions of a future society. The feathered children are embodied questions, where the artist is asking us if we, in a world where our genetics could be freely manipulated, will be able to resist altering our physical abilities. Will necessity or vanity be the ruling power? Will we act collectively or as individuals? The fragility of the feathers is simultaneously mirroring the perhaps most classic tale of human hubris: the fate of Icarus in Greek mythology. How far can humanity progress before everything falls apart?
Lucy Glendinning, born 1964, lives and works in Somerset, England. She graduated in 1986, at the University of the West of England in Bristol, after which she worked as a mold maker for the sculptor Elizabeth Frink. Today, Glendinning is one of England’s most prominent sculptors with several major sculpture projects behind her. She has received the Landscape Institute Award twice and is the 2010 winner of the Civic Trust Award. This is Lucy Glendinning’s first exhibition in Sweden, and the first in collaboration with Galleri Andersson/Sandström.