Contemporary sculpture is characterised by a radical process of revival that starts at the end of the Fifties. This revival occurs through three main avenues: the reconsideration of traditional materials and the inclusion of other everyday objects, the defetishisation of the sculptural object and the involvement of other spacial values, scale and occupation. Tony Cragg (Liverpool, 1949) participates in the sculpture revival via the three routes mentioned above and employs the Minimal artists, the expression of Arte Povera and Richard Long as his points of reference, as he states that, “without adhering to previous forms, they have created a language of new forms and have been able to achieve reflection that is driven by the same formal aspects.”
Cragg acknowledges that a new theory, conception and sculptural practice have been formulated by the acceptance and incorporation of new materials. Therefore, the work presented in this exhibition - a selection of thirty four pieces realised between 1989 and 1995, barring Spectrum (1979) - reveals this emphasis on the subject matter, the creation of realities with new meaning and the modification of scales, both in terms of space and values, as natural and artificial objects are placed on even ground.
Fernando Castro Flórez, art critic and curator of the exhibit, cites the artists Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys as key figures in Cragg's artistic genealogy - from the former he learns how to use new materials, and from latter a way of escaping from the trivial, finding poetry in everyday life. Finally, Castro Flórez concludes, “his work does not contain references to art or politics, they come from the tension between the materials”, which he strives to draw emotional responses from.
This poetry and reconsideration of non-art objects can be seen in Gazelle (1992), made from glass bottles arranged like perimeter appendages of a bicycle, and, as Castro Flórez points out: “He is able to poeticise the everyday through his materialist vision.” The heterogeneous objects comprising the sculpture Terris Novalis (1992) lose their initial meaning as they are incorporated into the sculptural process, and he even uses artistic and chromatic qualities to obtain pictorial results, as seen in Spectrum (1979).
His later works, gathered together here, highlight the artist's maxim that, “nature is the source and origin of art”, as the organic world is depicted in his sculptures, conceived and perceived as collections: Mental Picture (1992), created from stone, Complete Omnivore (1993), made from iron and plaster, and Administered Landscape (1994), made from paraffin. These sculptures open out, both symbolically and conceptually, to encompass the laws of nature and particularly those related to twists and origin of forms such as the series Early forms (1993).