The relation of the individual to their environment, to the space around us, seems to be the common theme in these two shows currently running at White Cube in Bermondsey.
The usually spacious and open main gallery has been transformed by Antony Gormley into a labyrinth of tiny spaces, each section housing a figure – or a collection of figures – that vary in scale and material. The most eye-catching is Sleeping Field, where dozens and dozens of clunky mini-men made from charcoal grey blocks cover the floor. Some curled up in the foetal position, others lying flat on their backs. It’s an impressive mix of uniformity and individualism.
The overall title for this show from Antony Gormley is Fit, and that’s an appropriate title as each room seems to examine how the individual must change themselves, mould themselves to fit into and work within the confines of their environment. We are restricted, not liberated.
A favourite with me was Passage, where a large life-size silhouette of a single figure is stretched out to form a long dark tunnel: an examination of the dark interior of the human form – a journey into the unknown.
There are fifteen chambers in total in Gormley’s labyrinth. Perhaps not all of them grip you or fascinate, but it makes for an interesting experience.
In contrast, Virginia Overton has kept the North Galleries an open space and has, instead, responded to that space by scattering a series of sculptures of mirrors and marbles throughout. And there’s an interesting move to bring the outside inside with one wall covered with green leafy wallpaper and a perfectly proportioned pile of logs along the wall; a study in uniformity with each log of identical length and proportions.
Virginia always uses a combination of materials and elements in her work, and the crushed car and log fireplace included here is testament to that. However, though both shows offer a glimpse into the respective style of the artist, I can’t say that either gets under the skin. Not as thought-provoking as the recent Georg Baselitz show that was on here, and surely not as exciting as the upcoming Kiefer exhibition that opens at White Cube Bermondsey next month.
White Cube Bermondsey, to November 6, 2016
All installation images by me.