For those who aren’t yet familiar with artist Conrad Shawcross, you soon will be – his work is the focus of five exhibitions over the coming months. Most celebrated for his mechanical pieces, the 37-year-old is at the forefront of a small clutch of British artists creating sculptures by combining geometry, science and technology.
Shawcross recently unveiled a new sculpture at Dulwich Park entitled Three Perpetual Chords, replacing one by Barbara Hepworth that was stolen in 2011. The trio of knot-like loop sculptures that comprise Three Perpetual Chords (second picture) form a trail at the northern end of the park and draw on the artist’s study of light and harmonics. (Another of his works, Counterpoint, is also on show in the adjoining Dulwich Picture Gallery’s mausoleum space until Sunday June 14.)
The Royal Academy has also commissioned Shawcross to create a new site-specific installation for the Annenberg Courtyard for the Summer Exhibition, which opened on Monday June 8. The Dappled Light of the Sun is a large-scale immersive work that consists of a group of five steel “clouds”, standing 6m high and weighing five tonnes, each made up of thousands of tetrahedrons. “The Greeks considered the tetrahedron to represent the very essence of matter,” Shawcross explains. “In this huge work I have taken this form as my ‘brick’, growing these chaotic diverging forms that will float above the heads of visitors, who will be able to wander beneath them.”
Those who would like to buy a Shawcross work should head for Victoria Miro’s gallery on Wharf Road, north London, where from Wednesday June 10 maquettes (such as the one in the third picture) for his larger sculptures are on sale for between £30,000 and £70,000. The New Art Centre at Roche Court in Wiltshire is also selling both smallish maquettes and larger tornado-like sculptures (such as the one in the first picture) for between £7,000 and £150,000.
Concluding this Shawcross celebration is Paradigm, a 14m-high sculpture made from weathered steel that has been commissioned to mark the inauguration of the Francis Crick Institute, a new interdisciplinary medical research institute that opens in October in King’s Cross. Starting from a base (which seemingly punctures the pavement) of less than 1m wide, each tetrahedron will increase in volume as it rises up to the top tetrahedron, which is 5m wide and high.
The industrial look of Shawcross’s art has been seen before – most notably in art created by Russians like Tatlin after the revolution – but with the engineering possibilities of new technology and increasingly exotic materials, Shawcross scales new heights of daring and beauty with his art.