The new solo exhibition at the Flowers Gallery in Shoreditch, London, by the British artist Cedric Christie, displays an intellectual gravity not seen since the 60's, when artists of the calibre of Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd and Carl Andre, among many, developed the imagery that represents the collective memory of the 20th Century. Christie has created a language within the current trend of blurring boundaries. Artists that become scientists. And, in Christie's case, sculptures that becomes installations in which the audience interacts within the space to become part of it.
Christie in the installation room.
He says that his starting point was a small Rodin sculpture he saw at the Courtauld Institute;
"the sculpture became genderless and the space gained prominence over the form", he said.The other reference point for his new works is the phrase by the acclaimed Brazilian architect Niemeyer that the curve is the most beautiful thing in the World. With such stimulating material, no wonder, experiencing the show is so enlightening.
When Painting Collapses, You Have Beautiful Sculptures is divided into two spaces. The bigger room pictured above consists of a series of curves of steel sometimes painted in monochromes. The clever use of a discreet grid revealed in the background gives a sense of timelessness that one senses when entering a cathedral. It grows into a spiritual encounter. The present stops and, then, you can appreciate the beauty of the curves, the beauty of the steel, the colour. You are there and nothing else matters.
Raw wood and steel are to be found in the next room. The space again becomes very important. As he says:
"I wanted to keep them as a basic sculpture as possible with the use of raw materials and it allows you to concentrate around the space of the piece and between yourself and the work".
Artwork by Cedric Christie
Victoria Mendrzyk, the curator, says:
"working with Cedric is a never ending thinking process, he is constantly experimenting, always looking for the right colour, the right display. We rehung the installation seven times. Which in a way is amazing to follow and extremely enriching."
In 2007 Christie, along with his friends Gavin Turk, Richard Strange, Simon Liddiment and Paul Tucker embarked on a road trip through three of the most important art events in Europe from Basel Art Fair (Switzerland) to Munster's Skulptur Projekte (Germany) via Kassel's Documenta (Germany). In his first solo show with Flowers Gallery Love me or fuck me but don't do both 2009, the car Christie travelled in was smashed, "collapsed", transformed into a heavy sculpture and hung on the wall of the Gallery. Titled Pink Painting, the sculpture was both an outcome of his journey and a hint of the American artist John Chamberlain's crushed automobile sculptures.
Cedric Christie has a long-standing interest in emerging art practices and the history of 20th century art. He has curated exhibitions such as: Chinese Open, Q-Park 2013 in London's Chinatown which gathered 100 artists in a car park and Something I don't do, Flowers Gallery, London 2009. In 2011 Cedric Christie exhibited Color Movement at Flowers Gallery, New York, in which he drew inspiration from dance - in particular George Balanchine's ballet, Agon (1957).
When Painting Collapses, You Have Beautiful Sculptures is a pivotal moment in Christie's career. A solid display of elegant works that needs to be experienced in person. Make sure you do not miss it before it ends on the 29th of June. It will remain in your mind for the rest of the day.