Thursday, 19 July 2012

Sarah Lucas: Ordinary Things - HMI, Leeds

Sarah Lucas, Suffolk Bunny , 1997-2004
Sarah Lucas: Ordinary Things is at The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 19 July - 21 October 2012.

Lucas might turn out to be one of the most interesting of the original YBA crowd. I was impressed by her contribution to a mixed exhibition in Gloucester Cathedral in 2010: I thought her piece (see below) the strongest work in the show, as well as being the most sensitive and subtle – which given her ‘bad girl’ reputation was a bit of a surprise.

This exhibition is billed as focusing on the ‘sculptural’, rather than the ‘sensational’, and on her work with the 'ordinary things' that form our surroundings and assumptions.

The gallery’s exhibition blurb rather boldly situates Lucas in an art historical lineage which ranges from
third century Italian votives, Bernini's classical statuary, the figures of Henry Moore and the natural materials of Barbara Hepworth, to the 'Arte Povera' strategies of Mario Merz and the found objects of Robert Filliou.  Her works also recall the knotted bodies of Orlan from the 1960s and the dolls of Hans Bellmer and Oskar Kokoschka, as well as the surrealist figures of Pablo Picasso, Robert Gober and Louise Bourgeois, Cycladic torsos and archaeological artefacts.
Elevated company, indeed!
More down to earth is a description of the work itself:
Lucas' sculptures are made of and from the human body - a decaying and sensible object that requires maintenance and care. 'Au Naturel' (1994) is a portrait of a couple on a bed, a man represented by a cucumber and a pair of oranges and a woman by a pair of melons and a bucket. Both vulgar compositions are constructed from materials and vernacular slang that are commonplace, their 'human' component made from organic matter that needs to be replaced as inevitable decay sets in. In the seven 'NUDS' (2009-2010) here on display, limbs can be seen wrapping around each other in knotted couplings and solo acrobatics, the cellulite-marked flesh formed from 'natural' tights stuffed with fluff and stiffened by wire, the delicate surface bruised and wrinkled as the bodies perch on their breeze-block supports.
Read a review by Adrian Searle and interviews with Christina Patterson and Aida Edemariam.
Sarah Lucas, Au Naturel, 1994
Sarah Lucas, NUD 19, 2009
Sarah Lucas, Jubilee, 2012
Sarah Lucas, Big Fat Anarchic Spider, 1993
Sarah Lucas, Penetralia, 2008
Sarah Lucas, installation view of exhibition, including: Suffolk Bunny, Spam, Unknown Soldier, Au Naturel

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