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Richard Deacon


31 January — 18 March 2007

Richard Deacon is one of the most radical and influential figures in the British art world. This major presentation of new and recent work comprised of sculptural pieces, wall drawings, display table installations and pencil drawings.

Deacon’s three-dimensional works test the definition of sculpture. A selection of ceramic pieces, some large scale and dozens of smaller ‘studies’, combine biomorphic shapes with the suggestion of systematic strategy. The larger sculptures are made up of tubular lengths joined in a weird geometry, covered with a dripping, shiny glaze. Each piece is the result of two open forms conjoined in what the artist refers to as a ‘siamese’ way so that they are mutually dependent structurally, each appearing to be pushed into the other.  These sculptures correspond to Alphabet (2005), a series of twenty six drawings that explore similar aesthetic territory. The idea of listing or enumerating, along with that of likeness, was a central theme of this exhibition.

In my father’s house (2006) is a collection of newspapers salvaged by Deacon from his family home after his father’s death in 2004. Front pages announce important historical events, framed and in chronological order. Here we can see announcements of the death of Queen Mary, India’s independence, Kennedy’s assassination, Churchill’s death and the Harrow train crash as reported in newspapers from all over the world, selected from a personal archive. The work from which this exhibition gets its title, it encourages a grasp of the wider world.

The seemingly undisciplined Out Of Order (2003), is an ambitious and sprawling sculpture. An ambiguity remains as to whether this piece is somehow dysfunctional, derived from some undeclared intent, or as the artist suggests, ‘merely seriously impolite’.

This exhibition was supported by Brindleyplace, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation and The Henry Moore Foundation.