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Robert Orchardson

Endless façade

23 February — 25 April 2011

British artist Robert Orchardson makes sculptures inspired by science fiction and futuristic design. Using low-tech materials such as wood and resin, he is unashamedly nostalgic for modernist idealism, appropriating its forms and reconfiguring these as objects devoid of apparent function.

Orchardson considers prototypes and models to be carriers for ideas, able to convey utopian potential as they develop into something beyond themselves. He also sees this sense of possibility inherent in stage sets, where a narrative exists between the material character of  the set itself, and the ‘other’ identity it  adopts within the context of a play.

For Ikon, Orchardson presented Endless façade (2011), an ambitious new installation which partially revisits stage sets designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1955 for a Royal Shakespeare Company production of King Lear. Noguchi aspired to an other-worldly feeling, where abstract, mobile forms created a shifting landscape against which the play unfolded. However his designs were met with damning criticism, regarded as outlandish and unsympathetic to the theatrical production. Fascinated by aspiration offset by failure Orchardson revisits Noguchi’s designs, grasping their optimism and eventual redundancy. Huge monochrome wall constructions act as a backdrop for a series of highly-coloured prop-like forms, transforming the gallery spaces into an immersive environment tense with possibility.

Within the installation Orchardson included an earlier work, The future is certain, give us time to work it out (2009). Comprising two large-scale   aluminium screens made of  complex triangular forms, their geometric  patterns mediate our view of other visitors, creating a  new ‘stage’ space in which viewers assume the position of  actors. Seen within the context of Endless façade, such machinations are key to Orchardson’s artistic proposition.

This exhibition was organised in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver.