Antony Gormley RA, 'Clutch VIII', 2010. Cast iron. 36 5/8 x 17 11/16 x 30 11/16 in. (93 x 45 x 78 cm). © the artist. Photo: Stephen White. Courtesy White Cube.
Following their presentation in a grand columned space at St Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum,
Antony Gormley RA’s series of cast-iron figures ‘Still Standing’ (2010–11) comes to London for an exhibition at White Cube’s Hoxton Square gallery, on view now until the autumn.
As in previous works the Academician’s body shape and size is the starting point for each of the seventeen figures, but they take some new influences for their composition, in particular the aesthetic of architecture. Each body is formed from rectangular cuboid blocks, stacked and jutting out at different angles, all stained a copper-ish colour as if corroded over time. The voids between different blocks hint at internal spaces within the bodies.
Several of the figures strain to stay upright – Clutch VIII (2010), for instance, is bent double. Other bodies have arms crossed (Turn III, 2010) or behind their head (Shrive VI, 2011) in poses that evoke existential anguish. Gormley’s title makes one consider the stoical nature of humans in the face of mental and physical pressures; some figures have lost the fight, like Level II (2010), which lies prostrate on the ground, or Abstract IV (2010), whose blocks have disintegrated into a curled up clump. The sculptures also resemble low-resolution jumbles of computer pixels. Although presented as a group of figures, the works are isolated in their own individual worlds, with no hint of interaction.
Antony Gormley RA, 'Level II'. Cast iron. 9 7/16 x 80 5/16 x 22 1/16 in. (24 x 204 x 56 cm). © the artist. Photo: Stephen White. Courtesy White Cube.
Upstairs Gormley displays a more recent work, State V (2011), from the series ‘Propper’ (2011–ongoing). Here blocks once again compose the human form, but they comprise a shape that is more abstract, more playful, a little reminiscent of Jenga column created by a child. The work also conjures to mind pieces by cubist sculptors and Constructivists of the early twentieth century. It gives an idea of the type of pieces that will be on view in November, when Gormley has a major exhibition of new work at White Cube Bermondsey.