This year has been a great success for one of the world’s greatest living sculptors. With exhibitions in Venice, Duisburg, Dallas, Edinburgh, and Paris (his exhibition under the glass pyramid at the Louvre was the first to be staged there by a living artist) and a Turner Prize to his name, it seems that Tony Cragg can do no wrong.
Since the late 1970s Cragg has been one of Britain’s leading sculptors, and the exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is testament to this. Tony Cragg: Sculptures and Drawings will be the first UK museum exhibition devoted to the artist in more than a decade, and with such a vast range of work on show, the exhibition takes on almost a retrospective character, encompassing works from his Early Formsand Rational Beings series. The sculptures, both inside the gallery space and in the exterior grounds, are satisfyingly beautiful, incredibly tactile and do not fall short of technical brilliance. Alongside sculptures such as Bent of Mind and Outspan is a selection of some 100 drawings, watercolours and prints which offer a fascinating insight into the artist’s working methods.
From an early age, Cragg has been captivated by the manipulation and chemical processes of certain materials, which can be seen clearly in both his use of drawing to understand experiments, and in the range of materials he uses in his sculptures – varying from bronze, iron, wood and Kevlar to plaster, steel, polystyrene and glass. However, what is most apparent about Cragg’s work is that they refuse to be categorised. Here is an artist who refuses to do what is expected of him, with always a hint of humour, something that is hard to find in the often-solemn world of sculpture.
Exhibition: Tony Cragg: Sculptures and Drawings
Venue: Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
Dates: 30th July - 6th November 2011
Originally published on The Journal website, 03/10/11