TAG New Exhibition | Antony Gormley: Living Time
‘Sculpture is not a picture of the world, it is an actual physical change to the world.’
– Antony Gormley
TAG Art Museum unveiled Living Time, the most comprehensive presentation of Antony Gormley’s work in Asia to date, on April 28, 2023. The exhibition spans nearly 40 years of the artist’s exploration of the body as a site of transformation and exchange.
As one of the most celebrated artists of our time, Antony Gormley is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. His work confronts fundamental questions of where human beings stand in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise. Gormley’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the United Kingdom and internationally, and he has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Turner Prize in 1994.
Living Time activates two of the museum’s spaces, Hall 4 and Hall 5. In Hall 4, 35 sculptures are displayed in a grid formation, in response to the enclosed space. This presentation shows a diverse array of the artist’s work, from the early lead works Plateau (1985–86) and Diaphragm (1995), their surfaces divided into horizontal and vertical axes, to significant sculptures in steel and iron that use the same axes to map the interior space of the body. Key works include ConcentrateI (2003), which marks Gormley’s first attempt to transform the ‘pixel’ into a physical mass, Mean III (2016), which translates the body’s interior into a greatly reduced steel grid, and Tuck II (2018), which sees the human body become a precarious construction of slabs that reference megalithic structures.
Hall 4 also marks the first occasion that Gormley has shown his work without reference to chronology, allowing visitors to form their own connections between early lead works formed over moulds of the artist’s body to ones which began with the same but older body scans, speaking of our present reliance on the digital and on the urban grid to frame our experience of space and time.
The exhibition culminates in Hall 5 with four ‘Expansion Works’ that came out of an obsession with renegotiating the boundary of theskin. Body (1991/93), Fruit (1991/92), Earth (1991/93) and End Product (1990/93) are what Gormley has called ‘contained explosions’ that expand the skin’s surface by pushing outwards. In the process, they become less about the human body and more related to archaea, early cellular life forms or even fruits andvegetables. Earth and End Product accept gravity and have come to rest against the ground, whilst Body and Fruit are in suspended fall and hover just above the floor, the verticality of their long steel cables animating the space.
Speaking on the exhibition and its urgent message, Gormley has said: ‘This show reflects on the way that we have become increasingly contextualised by the built environment. The old saying that we make a world but then the world makes us has never been truer. I’m trying to reconcile the cyber world with the biological world and this show is a materialisation of the tension between them.’
Mr. Fan Di’an, the curator, commented, “As the world-renowned contemporary artist, the opening of Antony Gormley’s solo exhibition at TAG Art Museum offers a rare opportunity for us to understand his unique artistic concepts and visually appealing artistic language. The exhibition, Living Time, reveals the artist’s inquiry for the subject of body and space, life and world, human and nature, material and intelligence, showing the potential and power of the activated and empowered ancient art form, sculpture. With the faith in promoting artistic exchanges between China and the world, TAG Art Museum introduces Gormley’s representative artistic approaches to China. His artworks constitute a space for wandering, dialogue, and even philosophical thinking or inspiration through the viewer’s gaze. This is the remarkable achievement of the communication between Chinese art and international art.
Mr. Meng Xianwei, founder of TAG Art Museum, expressed on the opening, "This exhibition marks the first solo exhibition of a Western art master hosted by TAG Art Museum, and the ninth contemporary art exhibition since the opening of the museum. This significant exhibition will positively contribute to the museum's academic influence and the public's comprehension of international contemporary art. Notably, the works presented in the "Hanging Hall" embodied our initial vision for a globally unique exhibition style and an exceptional viewing experience for the audience. It epitomizes the harmonious symbiosis and mutual interaction between artworks and spatial environment, as well as the activation and communication of the energies of contemporary art and contemporary architecture.”
Mario Cristiani, president of Associazione Arte Continua, stated, “This is a great project that has the strength to overcome three years of challenges. The trust that the artworks that Antony Gormley has given us with all these years of preparation now sees repaid the efforts to make this luminous space vibrate with his fantastic works; a gift made to the rebirth of a spirit of awareness generosity and openness to life; a message that through art unites people across the Pacific and an invitation to enjoy the most comprehensive presentation of Antony Gormley’s work in Asia to date; an opportunity not to be missed visible until December; a bridge of culture that opens to hope in such difficult times. My thanks to Antony, his studio, the gallery staff, Mr. Meng Xianwei and his fantastic staff to the many visitors who will be able to enjoy these works and the collective work that has made it possible for them to be seen in such a beautiful way.
Living Time comes nearly 30 years after Gormley’s first trip to China. In 1995, the artist came to the region to conduct research for Asian Field (2003), his large-scale installation made in collaboration with the Chinese people. This trip took Gormley from Xi’an to the Forbidden City to Nanjing to Yangshuo County and then to brick factories in Zibo, Shandong Province. Speaking on its lasting impact on his life and work, Gormley has said: ‘I realised that China has a relationship with the pixel dating back 2000 years in treating the brick as a regular geometric unit that nevertheless relates to the embodied world. Going around China and seeing brick factories and the grey bricks of Nanjing’s city wall, for example, allowed me to see an extraordinary culture that is to do with formalising a relationship with earth…'
Accompanying the exhibition will be a richly illustrated catalogue. The book will feature extensive installation photography, including articles by the curator Fan Di'an, producer Meng Xianwei, and scholar Yang Beichen, as well as a conversation between Antony Gormley and Hans Ulrich Obrist that will situate the exhibition within Gormley's wider practice and his long history of engagement with China.
About the Curator
Professor Fan Di’an serves as the current President of Central Academy of Fine Arts, President of China Artists Association, Vice President of Beijing Literature and Art Critics Association, President of Beijing Artists Association, Deputy Director of the Art Education Committee under the Ministry of Education, researcher of Central Research Institute of Culture and History and member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Professor Fan has long been engaged in the study of 20th century Chinese art, contemporary art criticism and exhibition curation. He has published extensively and has curated numerous academic exhibitions to reflect on today’s concerns and the development of Chinese art.
About the Artist
Antony Gormley is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. His work confronts fundamental questions of where human beings stand in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise.
Gormley’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the UK and internationally with exhibitions at the Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg (2022); Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar (2022); Galleria Continua, San Gimignano(2022); National Gallery Singapore, Singapore (2021); Schauwerk Sindelfingen, Sindelfingen (2021); M+, Hong Kong (2021); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2019); Delos, Greece (2019); Uffizi Gallery, Florence (2019); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (2019); Long Museum, Shanghai (2017); National Portrait Gallery, London (2016); Forte di Belvedere, Florence (2015); Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2014); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (1993) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1989). Permanent public works include the Angel of the North (Gateshead, England), Another Place (Crosby Beach, England), Inside Australia (Lake Ballard, Western Australia), Exposure (Lelystad, the Netherlands) and Chord (MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA).
Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999, the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture in 2007, the Obayashi Prize in 2012 and the Praemium Imperiale in 2013. In 1997 he was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and was made a knight in the New Year’s Honours list in 2014. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, an Honorary Doctor of the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge. Gormley has been a Royal Academician since 2003.
Antony Gormley was born in London in 1950.
About GALLERIA CONTINUA and ASSOCIAZIONE ARTE CONTINUA
The gallery was created in San Gimignano (Italy) in 1990 by three friends: Mario Cristiani, Lorenzo Fiaschi and Maurizio Rigillo. In the same year, the Association
Arte Continua was founded, a non-profit organization, committed to offering regular public art and charity initiatives involving artists from the international art community, and local communities, not only concentrated in large cities but spread across the territory.