In a time where vitality focuses primarily on youth, Anthony Abrahams sculptures are the perfect antidote to ageism as both a celebration of the human spirit and the body in all its forms. Pangolin London
presents an exhibition of works of life affirming warmth and beauty with the first London solo show of Anthony Abrahams for over ten years. Encompassing a selection of works from the past two decades, this exhibition is testament to Abrahams unique artistic talent.
Born in London in 1926 Abrahams first attended the University of Cambridge, where he read English, and went on to study painting at the Anglo-French Art Centre in London. Following this he made a successful career in the world of advertising before he turned to his artistic practice full time in 1991.
Known for his stylistically distinctive figurative sculptures, Anthony Abrahams work fuses formal excellence with an emotive representation of the body and painterly flair. Abrahams recent flurry of artistic activity has been in no small way driven by his close relationship with the Pangolin Editions sculpture foundry in Gloucestershire, where he casts all of his works. Made by initially constructing wood and steel armatures and covering them in plaster, the moulds are then cast into bronze using the lost wax process. This achieves the quality of texture so key to Abrahams work, as chisel marks, scratches and the evidences of construction are preserved on the skins of his subjects.
Anthony Abrahams work speaks both of human strength and frailty. In Searching I and II, the half-formed figures can be read as depictions of either growth or disintegration, striving or searching, for a bodily autonomy their lack of limbs and other parts prohibit. Bending and Leaning also explore notions of the corporeal in their study of pose and posture. Abrahams is not interested in monumentalising these simple physical acts, but manages to negotiate the most delicate, intimate elements of movement into sacred portraits of human endeavour.
Abrahams work is a celebration of an inner power, confidence and vitality that come with age and there is above all an overpowering sense of determination and beauty in these bodies. Often his dynamic and emotive figures also explore the difficult subject of the inner spirit at conflict with the outer body and confront us with desires that struggle to become resolved with their exterior forms. In the first catalogue of his work, Edward Phelps described Abrahams outlook as:
sometimes tender, sometimes sad
a tolerant understanding of the frailty and transience of human aspirations, a perception of our precarious hold on life.
The sculptures in this exhibition do not cut a clear path in defining specific feelings or relationships, but instead linger in the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition. Commonly they are all caught on the cusp; of a movement or action about to take place, a whisper about to be spoken, of life or of death, completion or complete disintegration. The result is a stunning exhibition that is both a contemplative study on the aging process, gender and the corporeal body, and a glorious celebration of the enduring human spirit.