In the United Kingdom’s largest open-air gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Henry Moores were arranged so the viewer could only see one at a time wherever they stood in the landscape. Michael Craig-Martin’s powder-coated, pop art pieces are larger and more colourful yet here there are displayed indoors in a London Gallery for the first time and they are in your face as they could be.
But these are almost gargantuan drawings, as though sculpted in 2D onto invisible paper. And suddenly there is the realisation that from wherever you stand, you cannot see the figurative form of all the pieces at once, indeed there will always be one that is no wider than the steel from which it is forged. For this reason, every single square inch of the gallery floor offers a different view.
In this exhibition, Craig-Martin has created 3 to 4 metre high clipart representations of everyday objects. They can be walked around or through, but most commonly be used as fodder for camera trick selfies, whereby the subject appears to hold each object. Very poignant, as this assimilates our utilitarian objects the same cultural importance as the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Outdoors, these works would be sunk into the ground. In the gallery they appear to rest on the concrete floor (though I’m pretty sure there must be some serious counter-balancing going on underneath). The one exception is Fork and Knife, the tines and blade of which penetrate the floor like a stone sirloin steak. A corkscrew and a lightbulb inhabit a room of their own, and are arranged so you see their full power as you walk through the door.
Everybody stands far from these pieces, nobody looks close. This is pure sculpture, only to be admired as a whole. Go. Look. Be stunned. Look again.
Michael Craig-Martin is at Gagosian, 6-24 Britannia Street, London from May 31st until August 3rd 2019. Admission is free but please check the opening times with the gallery.