Opening on Wednesday, November 8, 6 – 9 pm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to present a sculpture of my left hand and five embraces, the gallery’s third exhibition with the British artist Andrew Lord.
The Open Hand: the embraces by Andrew Lord
For artist Andrew Lord, the atlas of the world is composed not of connected landmasses delineated into political shapes often beset against the grain of geography, but of passages of the body: the mitt of the hand capping a stretch of the arm bending into the block of a torso. Should the figures he hews be of bronze or ceramic—an arrangement of vessels, a circle of swallows, the rise and run of a Lancashire landscape—each work possesses a double consciousness of lyrical embodiment, of being in the world and the world being in it. Or, in other terms, as Lord has touched the thing, the thing has touched him. Both changed in the contact, the work is left with the imprint of metaphor.
Even when the subject is not the human figure as in his shapely vessels—statuesque, cubist, mottled—deployed in carefully arranged installations, Lord himself asserts that “the impression of the body is essential to the formation of the work.” It is the animating thrust of corporeality met with the sympathies of consciousness that becomes the vehicle compelling his sculpture from inert medium to the efflorescence of concept. This intuitive manipulation of his own frame and its capacities to sense the surrounding world carries the work from a utilitarian container toward an abundance of contained histories, memories, loves, and griefs. For the embraces, a series of five works in bronze, accompanied by a sixth sculpture, a bronze iteration of the artist’s own hand, Lord has returned to notebooks, recalling investigations into figure and form that have arisen from the past with new urgency. These sculptures capture two men in the midst of an embrace, their blocky countenances and exaggerated proportions recalling a diverse catalogue of modernist leitmotifs, less wrestling with his forbearers than breathing new life into them. Each variation is a new posture, a new set of shapes composed of arms touching arms, legs locked against legs. From the loops and arabesques of these ambiguous entanglements emerge haphazard connections between selves searching for another through registers of care, lust, or possible violence. Between their intimate biases, the uneven angles of who “the more loving one be,” the men amidst the embraces, wrapping and unwrapping their limbs, cede to embodiment that which language squanders. In their still moments of attachment, the embrace circulates in rhythms of positive form and negative space; however, it is in this interstitial emptiness that the power of connection is most palpably felt. Signing over each of these interactions is the totemic hand, Lord’s own, an emissary from the atlas of the world series. This charged metonym reifies the manifold nature of his lyrical embodiment: the hand being both the symbolic locus of touch central to the embrace and the means from which these works of art come forth into being.
The poet John Keats spoke of great art as always grappling with “negative capability” which he defined as “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” For Lord, it is the negative spaces around which he constructs his forms and figures that bear the weight of Keats words. Whether it is in the internal voids of his vessels or in the tentative distances between the bodies of men, it is the emptiness that holds the trace of the metaphor. It represents the quietude held within urns, subtle monuments to those we have lost, or in the imperceptible whispers crossing bedsheets to lovers who may or may not be asleep. Lord’s negative capability, in all of his work, but especially here in the embraces, is the silence contouring the pauses that passes between bodies over time. What hovers in the impression Lord leaves on his work is all that is left unsaid, that does not irritably scurry after fact and reason, but that sits with the wonder that originated in his hand.
Andrew Lord was born in 1950 in Rochdale, UK, and lives and works in Europe and New York, NY, US. Solo exhibitions include the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, US (2018); Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK (2010); Santa Monica Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, US (2010); Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede, NL (2003); Camden Arts Centre, London, UK (1996); and The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, US (1993). His work is among the collections of notable international museums including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, US; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, NL; Tate Britain, London, UK; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; The Glass House, New Canaan, CT, US; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, US; and the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, NL, among others.