Tony Cragg is a prominent British visual artist known for his smooth, blobular, almost alien formations. Cragg commonly uses a range of materials to produce smooth, curved surfaces that explore his observations of the surrounding world by challenging form, volume, scale and function through the medium of sculpture. His latest exhibition at the Lisson Gallery features a variety of new works in a continuance of form, yet extending his practice beyond the previous limits with ever more intricate surfaces areas and new formations.
Cragg was born in 1949 and began showing work at the Lisson gallery in 1979. This exhibition is his twelfth hosted by the gallery since their initial collaboration. Cragg also exhibited his works in London early this year at Exhibition Road at part of the 2012 Festival.
The generally smooth and intricate work Cragg produces is based on his observation and interpretations of the natural and coinciding material world that exists around him. He distorts what he sees, quite literally, to produce metaphorical ‘beings’ and ‘profiles’ that suggest a metaphysical interpretation.
His greatest exploration seems to be that of the surface area of his creations. In Early Form, the spherical, bronze mass is consumed by all manner of appendages and paradoxical indentations. The piece, along with many other of his works, undulates from rough to smooth; amidst the smoothed over areas, there is a wealth of rough-looking protrusions that are, in turn, polished — yet seem to beg for more ‘growths’ to encompass them in order to continue the pattern.
His work is reminiscent of the formation of a mold, eerie and uncanny in its own right, yet simultaneously beautiful and intriguing. Cragg’s work also seems to broach the borders of science with works like Group, which is cast from bronze and seems to pay homage to the alveoli of the human lungs that are uniquely designed to cover an enormous surface area. The exploration of the human form and body can also be observed in works such as Cubic, or a [second] Early Form, an intentinal-type form, intricately bound yet possessing massive surface area that sustains life.
The focus of the show seems to be on Cragg’s wooden version of Group, over 3 meters tall. It furthers reinforce his reference of the mechanics of the body, not only through Group’s natural wooden constructs, but also through the visible veiny grain that covers its surface.