28 March – 3 May 2014
With ‘States and Conditions, Hong Kong’, Gormley turned the entire gallery architecture into a psychic and physiological testing ground, using sculpture to animate space and activate the built environment. The exhibition was designed to resonate within the dense urban conditions particular to Hong Kong.
Dispersed tactically throughout the gallery and its connecting stairways and passages, the works in the exhibition invited the viewer’s active projection. Using dramatic changes in material and scale, both the body of sculpture and that of the viewer are included and excluded, made solid and dematerialised, allowed to displace space but also to identify with it.
The works invite circumnavigation and are catalysts for a choreography of movement. This process is initiated by the first work the viewer encountered, Ease (2012), which obstructed the main entrance from the street. This massive iron ‘Blockwork’ sculpture suggested an awkward occupation of the gallery architecture, and encourages an awareness of our position in space and time.
Murmur (2014) is a large-scale multiple ‘Space-Frame’ that filled the entire ground floor gallery. Derived from Form (the life-size crouching ‘Blockwork’ sculpture installed in the room directly above), its dimensions have been translated and expanded outwards by frames which challenge the containing architecture, allowing the viewer just a small passage between the surrounding walls and the void contained inside this ‘frame-field’.
Several new sculptures occupied the transitional spaces of the building. The half-scale 'Blockwork’, Small Prop III (2013), sat near to the front desk. Strain II (2011), a steel ‘Liner’ work, maps the space of a body using a singular unending loop installed high up on the stairwell wall. On the first-floor landing, a vertical and horizontal line made from the same steel bar as Strain II, bisected the space, interrogating the rules of architecture that physically order our environment. These linear works suggest a larger, hidden connective system such as a building’s plumbing or electrical circuitry but equally, recall the interconnected nervous system of a human body.
The upstairs gallery space was occupied by Form (2013), the crouching iron ‘Blockwork’ that is the seed-form for Murmur on the ground floor. Like Ease, the ‘Blockwork’ attempts to reconsider the body as a building; anatomy has been replaced by stacking, propping and cantilever, to form a static but dynamically unstable whole.
Two more ‘Liner’ works, Secure (2012) and Transfer (2011), were installed in the upper corridor and library. One animated the junction between wall and ceiling, and the other hung like the exposed filament of a light bulb. These sculptures are interferences in the ordering of architectural space and the systems that consolidate it.
The final space of the exhibition included three works that continue his investigation of body and space: Gut XIII (2010), a vertical ‘Blockwork’ that uses the architectural metaphor of the body as a building to full advantage, suggesting the body as an unstable high-rise with the potential of imminent collapse; Place II (2014), a life-size stainless steel ‘Expanded Framer’; and Reserve (2013), a hermetic, sealed tank that contains a similarly expanded body-space to Murmur, here made as a dark, invisible, still, sealed and waiting void.
Born in London in 1950, Antony Gormley’s solo shows include Middelheim Museum, Antwerp (2013); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo; Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (1993) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1989). Major public works include Angel of the North (1998, Gateshead, England); Another Place (2005, Crosby Beach, England) and Exposure (2010, Lelystad, The Netherlands). He has also participated in major group shows such as the ‘Venice Biennale’ (1982 and 1986) and ‘Documenta 8’, Kassel, Germany (1987). Gormley won the Turner Prize in 1994, and was made a knight in the New Year’s Honours list 2014. Since 2003 he has been a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, London and since 2007 a British Museum Trustee.