Comments on: Brancaster Chronicle No. 8: Robin Greenwood Sculptures http://abstractcritical.com/article/brancaster-chronicle-no-8-robin-greenwood-sculptures/ Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Emyr Williams http://abstractcritical.com/article/brancaster-chronicle-no-8-robin-greenwood-sculptures/#comment-319324 Sat, 30 Nov 2013 07:26:30 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7663#comment-319324 You are taking this into deeper waters Terry – sculptural as distinct from three-dimensional (the prized ambition in these works) The photos really do not show the qualities of the …sculptures.. three-dimensionals. I have looked back at some of my own phone snaps and enjoyed the zig-zagging upwards and mazy pieces that have a flurry of activity about them. I was intrigued seeing a picture of a Tiepolo (see what I did there?) Abraham and the Angels in Udine. (page 73 in the book Toby mentions in Robert’s article). The figure of Abraham anchors the painting and gently zig zags up towards the angles standing on a cloud. This two tier arrangement and disposed angles struck me as something that I had remembered from Robin’s sculpture. Here the cloud forms the break between tiers. Many of the parts of these works have a three-dimensional brushstroke quality – roughly hewn and pulled through space to describe it and give it meaning as it moves. The more I think of them the more painterly they get (not in a negative sense). In fact I remember remarking to a couple of people there that they complimented the paintings to such an extent that they almost looked as if they had morphed out of them. “Can this be achieved in painting?” would be a logical question – well the illusion of it could but I am uneasy with this approach translating in this way. From painting to sculpture… great no problems (for me)- clearly sparking a fecundity; but go the other way and I am not sure that two-dimensions are so willing. Colour space is not the same as three-dimensional space. I thought about the wreckage left at Hauser and Wirth by that brick – smashed glass everywhere and while I was tip-toeing through the debris,with a cold November wind whistling about my ears, I wondered which works would l save from the elements? If it was one, just one then it would have to be the Louis (Gamma Tau) – not Stella’s Barratt home mandala for sure (the weird thing about the picture in David’s article was that I was sure I seen a protractor one and thought the photo was of another show – that’s how much of an impression it made) No, the Louis every day – the best of the Unfurleds (he went on to do better works too) are fresco-like… a one-shot yes, but exhilarating for it. They are remarkable, unlike any other painting in their autographic quality. The colour is “disinterested” and like Tiepolo makes expressive use of earths to primary contrasts. The space is breathable rather than walkable. Space cannot be imagined in two or three dimensions: it graces us with its presence every now and then and back to our dirt-digging we go, hoping it’ll visit us again one day.

]]>
By: Terry Ryall http://abstractcritical.com/article/brancaster-chronicle-no-8-robin-greenwood-sculptures/#comment-315622 Wed, 27 Nov 2013 18:29:23 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7663#comment-315622 Emyr, shwmae! It strikes me that the use of steel has served the three sculptors very well in their quest for a three-dimensionality that is essentially spatial and structural, using welded and possibly jointed components in the part to part accumulation etc. that Robert Linsley describes. It is difficult to think of a more suitable material for their respective purposes. Although Robin appears to be sceptical about other possible approaches to the problem of three-dimensionality it would seem unreasonable to suggest for example that somebody working in stone could not also achieve an abstract three-dimensionality or indeed somebody working with plastic bottles and so on. Steel cannot be the only answer in a material sense to the broad question of three-dimensionality.
What each of them (Robin, Tony and Mark) does with their steel ‘parts’ is of course very different. In this regard Mark, by incorporating machine parts (and perhaps other components that have a functional history?) is glancing backwards to that part of early 20th century art that saw creative mileage in incorporating ready-made objects into their work. In contrast Tony appears to be using relatively anonymous bits and pieces,of a roughly uniform size to construct his work. This,in a material sense at least,places some distance between him and Mark and the many others (including of course the late Tony Caro)who,to a greater or lesser extent,have incorporated machine/industrial parts etc. into their work. It’s difficult to tell from the images but Robin also appears not to use components that have any obvious functional history but,in contrast to Tony, constructs using parts that have a greater size/shape difference from each other and achieves works that are more spatially open and consequently lighter in feel.
Your sense of painters informing sculptural possibilities here is intriguing and given that their is no hint or acknowledgement of this in the respective transcripts (apart from a comment by Ashley West(about a piece of Robin’s) which doesn’t really get developed)very astute and perceptive. I think that constructed sculpture has always largely been the product of artists who have been inclined towards a painter’s sensibility and perhaps the big question for Robin, Tony and Mark will be how to make their work more sculptural. This from Robin: “three-dimensionality is not quite tantamount to sculptural content”

]]>
By: Emyr Williams http://abstractcritical.com/article/brancaster-chronicle-no-8-robin-greenwood-sculptures/#comment-308680 Thu, 21 Nov 2013 23:29:33 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7663#comment-308680 Taking on board Terry’s remarks – back to this article. I don’t mean organic as literally analogous to plants or animals but more generally – as in Robert’s terms maybe- of part to part accumulation. Tony’s anecdote about the lion was revealing though. (I can only assume the kind of energy you are describing is in fact analogous to the cat’s own (minus an undiscerning appetite!) Tony explains in compelling terms what abstract sculpture should be like yet there is still an implication in the air that anything other than a “life-force” kind of approach is doomed to failure. Or maybe that’s the best definition for being the opposite to other approaches? As Robin implies about these other routes: been there, done that, doesn’t work. Is that shutting a lot of doors though? – surely individuals work in individual ways and each would bring their own take on any ‘approach’? I can’t imagine Rubens saying “figures flying around – done that , move on”. The to-ing and fro-ing that Robin also compellingly talks about could come right of painting and I am sympathetic to that for sure. I don’t think that painting need deal with space in the same way as sculpture though, lest we end up with illusory spaces that you could park a sculpture in or is that to be seen as positive quality? The ability to work fluently, changing and discovering would seem to underpin the best of art, and I wonder if in fact , that it is this point that sits at the crux of all the work: how to achieve that fluency? In this, there is a shared concern: painters and sculptors (unlike designers) have no CTRL+Z!
I think I get – now – the height issue Robin muses about, for to get up higher would involve a whole lot of other relational parts changing the nature of the lower sections to logically support and drive the forms upwards. This in turn would create a very different kind of work and take attention way from ongoing concerns into unforeseen situations – very different sculptures even. Why not use bigger pieces though? Scale was something that is still to be fully dealt with I felt (in my work too for sure). There is a common denominator of limb-sized pieces of steel building complexity and ultimately arriving at their extremities (though Tony now brings them back into loops , moibus-like) and this is something that people are seeing as a shared approach. The photos do not help provide enough of a sense of the works, but Cezanne’s facets of colour are strongly related to the proportions of pieces of steel to sculpture in all these works. Courbet’s compositional “tilts away” from figure to figure also. For all the sculptural , three-dimensional posturing I can’t escape the sense of painters in fact – ironically – informing sculptural possibilities here and do not see a gauntlet being thrown from sculpture to painting to deal with space. Space yes, but what kind and on whose terms?

]]>
By: Robert Linsley http://abstractcritical.com/article/brancaster-chronicle-no-8-robin-greenwood-sculptures/#comment-296057 Mon, 11 Nov 2013 03:49:08 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7663#comment-296057 Sadly, at this time I can only approach the work through the photograph, but it looks attractive. Each photograph gives a view of a number of negative shapes cut out of the air, and if one studies them closely it’s clear that any single view gives a false impression of how the lines of metal actually move in space, so I can imagine what Robin means by a fully three dimensional work. But it seems to me that the shapes formed by the metal and the negatives are very good. The negatives are particularly interesting, and the forms flow through the works. Dare I say that Robin appears to have learned a lot from Cézanne and Poussin. The other day I went back and read his piece on Poussin and Twombly at Dulwich and his description of the twist of a figure fits right in with these works. Poussin has lines and space. The space is of course an illusion. Robin’s work appears to have lines, illusionistic spaces and actual space. (Can’t say “literal” because that would provoke pointless objections.) It seems his project could be described as to add another dimension—if the very bad pun can be excused—to the capacities of painting. That can also be expressed as to make illusionistic spaces vivid and real in actual space, without holographs or mirrors or any other technical tricks like that. I guess I can’t help but believe that even if I was in the room, I would still perceive a succession of views.

I have to second Emyr’s reservation. Skilton, Smart and Greenwood are all working in the same idiom. One could argue that is a good thing. It enables the perception of fine distinctions; sculpture becomes a collective project, which is a fine modernist ambition; criticism has a lot to work with and so on. But realistically two things will work against the success of this art: the restricted range of materials, and the narrowness of the idiom shared by all the artists.

]]>
By: Emyr Williams http://abstractcritical.com/article/brancaster-chronicle-no-8-robin-greenwood-sculptures/#comment-295651 Sun, 10 Nov 2013 21:44:22 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7663#comment-295651 I wonder if in fact the term organic is quite useful after all . Mark’s rational explanation for how Robin would have to reconfigure any section to generate the impetus , energy and functional support for the steel to get it up higher made me wonder that this seemed to suggest this was the only way to do that (implied in relation to steel used in this way I suppose). This does have a sense of an “approach” which cannot be challenged. Making sections which build to larger units and gradually move through space seems to be shared by all three sculptors (I have not seen Mark’s so cannot be sure) Is this the only way that three-dimensionality can be dealt with though? for that seems a definite subtext. This approach does seem to treat the steel as some kind of organism; bits evolve in complexity and gather momentum as they “grow” through space. They need a sense of the sap running through them or the extremities wither. Tony’s analogy to a tree sharpening my point even further. Is there a danger of a similarity of approach which narrows rather than opens up possibilities? ….Is that a blow torch I hear?

]]>
By: Patrick Jones http://abstractcritical.com/article/brancaster-chronicle-no-8-robin-greenwood-sculptures/#comment-292949 Fri, 08 Nov 2013 13:24:23 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7663#comment-292949 I would also like to say that the transcripts ,however thorough ,lose a bit of the excitement and drama of the event.In retrospect the sculptures were extremely exciting and powerfull works.No doubt Robin deserves some of his own critical medicine,but to me these are defineatly some of the best sculpture made in England today.I look forward to the opportunity to see the other sculptors mentioned in the Brancaster Chronicles.

]]>
By: Sam http://abstractcritical.com/article/brancaster-chronicle-no-8-robin-greenwood-sculptures/#comment-292844 Fri, 08 Nov 2013 10:58:38 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=7663#comment-292844 I’m not how useful this but these photos differ radically from my memory of the works (and the few hours spent in the company of them). Tree of Ornans felt much larger in the flesh, much more concerned with occupying a space between and around its parts. Conversely Gothic Blud was, if not quite smaller, then at least more compact, more of a single thing. I don’t really intend as either positive or negative criticism, just an observation.

The other thing the photos only hint at is the sheer invention that occurs throughout the sculptures, particularly on the micro level. As I said in the talk itself I see their coolness as a positive factor – a factor they much bound up with the inventiveness (both intimate and distanced) which forms the steel into structure.

]]>