Size is no barrier to British artist Conrad Shawcross. His mechanical installations and stacked sculptures can be very, very large. In the past, he has taken over the Royal Academy’s neoclassical courtyard and installed one of the tallest sculptures in London at the Francis Crick Institute in King’s Cross. He is getting a little more intimate, however, for his latest exhibition at Victoria Miro’s Mayfair space, entitled After the Explosion, Before the Collapse, which runs from Thursday September 13 to Saturday October 27.
Working at the intersection of art and science, Shawcross has exhibited at respected institutions such as London’s National Gallery and the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, and was elected as a Royal Academician in 2013. He made his name with his signature mechanical sculptural works – two of which are on show in his new exhibition (from £5,000 for works on paper, and up to £200,000 for sculptures). These moving structures appear to have function, as they spin and twist, but are more elusive. Here the scientific, geometric and rational manifest as something philosophical, striking and poetic.
Shawcross is also presenting photographic prints in the exhibition. These abstract images were made by photographing a laser beam through glass fragments. He was drawn to the idea that an unwanted fault or imperfection could be desirable. The entire show plays with the holographic, reflections and optical games. It is the result of the artist’s fascination with scientific experiments, from philosopher Thomas Kuhn’s concept of a paradigm shift to Dorothy Hodgkin’s crystallography experiments. In many ways, Shawcross is a sci-fi 21st-century version of a 1960s op artist. His tetrahedrons, robotics and mirrors play with your eyes and force your mind to do delighted somersaults.