Brancaster Chronicle No. 34: Robin Greenwood Sculptures
Photicon Nakamichi, 2016, steel
18th June 2016, London.
Those present: John Bunker, Anne Smart, Anthony Smart, John Pollard, Alexandra Harley, Nick Moore, Robin Greenwood, Sarah Greenwood, Charley Greenwood, Saul Greenberg, Hilde Skilton, Mark Skilton, Noela James, Mark James, Richard Ward, Emyr Williams.
Photicon Nakamichi, 2016, steel (view 2)
Photicon Nakamichi, 2016, steel (view 3)
Las Brocciolas, 2016, steel
Las Brocciolas, 2016, steel (view 2)
Las Brocciolas, 2016, steel (view 3)
Vinticus McOldschool, 2016, steel
Vinticus McOldschool, 2016, steel (view 2)
Vinticus McOldschool, 2016, steel (view 3)
Habia Rubica, 2016, steel
Habia Rubica, 2016, steel (view 2)
Habia Rubica, 2016, steel (view 3)
Wexin Yang, 2016, steel
Wexin Yang, 2016, steel (view 2)
Wexin Yang, 2016, steel (view 3)
The Time Now in Ornans, 2016, steel
The Time Now in Ornans, 2016, steel (view 2)
The Time Now in Ornans, 2016, steel (view 3)
I enjoyed seeing these and thought they had a real momentum due to the consistency within the series (a series was also significant when compared to previous years). Far from feeling that the question of height and getting up and over one’s head had been abandoned , I thought that they were all the better for coming down and felt intensified accordingly. Sometimes I felt they suffered from the ‘cluster / stalk’ issue with a sense of a wilful putting something into a space at the end of a bar or skinnier phrase of pieces as a way of concluding an arrangement – this set up compartmentalised spaces perhaps. I understand what Mark meant when talking about an “evenness”. There were some satisfying bits of invention everywhere though and I would have liked to see even larger phrases (bigger bits) driving things a little more and making ever more haptic ‘thrown together’ things happen. Once a work is underway it is often a case of subservient secondary decisions being made to the initial dynamism of a phrase. I would look to challenge the unfolding structures more with evermore competing forces crashing about and taking things into even more unforeseen territory – they are geared up to do this which is really healthy and good.
LikeLiked by 1 person
This was a hugely thought provoking discussion that has benefitted from the history of the previous discussions. I am sorry that the film stopped at a crucial moment and I have given more thought to the last sculpture under discussion since then. The sculptures are hugely complex with many layers of interaction between the parts of each sculpture, the smaller elements making up each ‘cluster’ are rich and elaborate without being impenetrable; there is an open ness with in cluster which in turn generates an interesting dialogue across the sculpture. The spatial dynamic across the sculpture is underpinned by the richness in each cluster. The last one under discussion moves the clusters on into a new organisation, individual steel pieces that interact more intimately with the supporting strut. With Vinticus McOldschool the clusters have been separated out and as a result the spatial dynamic across the sculpture is powerful. With the final sculpture, each assemblage is more fully integrated with the strut; the cluster works around it and has a huge impact physically. What has been lost is the change in pace and spatial latitude. The result, I feel has been the creation of an armature in some places. The weight of the piece is centred and much of the activity is physically brought up to a similar level with a corresponding evenness across the sculpture. Having said that, I do not wish to be negative, these are hugely exciting pieces and some of the elements of the last sculpture are the best ‘bits’ in this collection, for me though, just not fully resolved
LikeLiked by 1 person
Some discussion of this work seems to be happening on abcrit at the moment: https://abcrit.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/36-tim-scott-and-robin-greenwood-discuss-abstract-sculpture/comment-page-1/#comment-1120
Thanks Emyr and Alex for those helpful comments, and for all the consideration given to the work by everyone at the talk. Since which I have also had useful studio talks with Alan Gouk and Sam Cornish.
As mentioned on Abcrit, I have now made a few changes to “Wexin Yang”, which I considered one of the weaker pieces of the six, but which I now think is possibly the strongest. I can’t really relate the changes to anything anyone said specifically (other than a detail Sam mentioned), but they were things that resulted from an extended period of looking, both with and without other people. But the pressure exerted upon the process of assessing work by the whole Brancaster cycle is so brilliant, and without end. Alan has questioned why we would want to do more than one or two each. I say keep it rolling on. The talks are great, but it is so much more than that. Really important!
Anyone want a look at “Wexin Yang” again over the next week or two is welcome.
I thought these sculptures were a step forward form the last two years and I admire how Robin has gone about working through problems and moving forwards. The ‘bars’ are an issue in terms of their function in the whole structure. So how to make them have an inherent value and not just to be carriers of the interesting content (those ‘clusters). The material makes this difficult!
Thanks for your comment, John. Interestingly, Alan Gouk seemed to think the opposite – that the “bars” were the real “structure” of the sculpture, and the clusters mere decoration, masking what was essential. Actually, whilst I think there is a little truth in both views, they only apply to very specific and limited instances in individual pieces. I don’t think you can make an overarching generalisation from either viewpoint. I definitely don’t think the bars are the structure, but nor do I think that the clusters alone are the content. And I think, as criticism, both viewpoints miss the main one… but see you next year on that…
The bars are of course part of the physical structure. I’m just thinking how to make them a meaningful or interesting or essential element of the structure, in terms of its ‘value’. There was one sculpture where the bars took on a whole life of their own, in terms of how they related to one another, that was interesting. However, for me it is about the ‘integrity of the whole’ that remains the problem with all abstract art that has any kind of complexity. That seems to be the challenge. A challenge that I see moving forwards in your recent work.
I think we are challenged with the ease of making good bits that are a part of a work but the difficulty in pulling it all together. Cropping (at least in painting) can short cut this dilemma but I resist that (at the moment at least).