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Extensive Exhibition of Antony Gormley's Work Opens at San Ildefonso College in Mexico
Antony Gormley's piece 'Insider' at the San Ildefonso College in Mexico City, Mexico, 18 August 2009. The biggest and most important exhibition of Gormley's work will be presented in the Mexican capital.

MEXICO CITY.- San Idelfonso College presents an exhibition of work by British sculptor Antony Gormley, bringing together installations, free standing sculptures, and works on paper from throughout Gormley’s career in what will be the most extensive presentation to date of his work.

Over the last 25 years Antony Gormley has revitalized the human image in sculpture through a radical investigation of the body as a place of memory and transformation, using his own body as subject, tool and material. Since 1990 he has expanded his concern with the human condition to explore the collective body and the relationship between self and other in large-scale installations. Gormley’s recent work increasingly engages with energy systems, fields and vectors, rather than mass and defined volume.

Gormley’s work has been exhibited extensively, with solo shows throughout the UK in venues such as the Whitechapel, Tate and Hayward galleries, and internationally at museums including the Louisiana Museum in Humlebaek, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Germany. Blind Light, a major solo exhibition of his work, was held at the Hayward Gallery, London, in 2007. He has participated in major group shows such as the Venice Biennale and Documenta 8 in Kassel. Angel of the North and, more recently, Quantum Cloud on the Thames in Greenwich, London, are amongst the most celebrated examples of contemporary British sculpture. Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999 and the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture 2007.

The body as a point of departure has been the basis of the work of Antony Gormley for over thirty years. For the artist, one springboard for his sculpture is the relationship between physical sensations and the surroundings. Gormley sees the body as a receptacle, a place for energy to move about, thoughts. We are in this world to give physical form to that energy while it pursues its path.

Gormley considers that the cultural environment influences the way in which people sense all that is around them, and through his works he invites the spectator to become aware of their own body and to explore the extent of the individual and collective thought that is perceived. The artist’s work is an attempt to clarify and understand the notion of space, starting with the analysis of the physical and mental structures through which we construct it. The work of Antony Gormley has been seen as an extraordinary endeavor to achieve, through the language of sculpture, an exploration of the human experience of freedom.

The following are brief descriptions of a few of the projects that will be on exhibition.

Firmament II
Firmament, the ancient name for the night sky, brings to mind an assembled matrix of volumes that map a celestial constellation, while also implying the form of a body lost within it. An expanded field of nearly 2135 steel elements and 1238 steel balls welded together, the non regular polygonal structure of Firmament dissolves and resolves throughout the gallery. Literally a drawing in space, pressed against the walls of the gallery, Gormley’s intention is for Firmament to loom over the viewer, giving a sense of both claustrophobia and landscape, testing our experience of space.

American Field
This work was created in 1990, in Cholula, Puebla, in Mexico, during a working trip of Antony Gormley’s while he was staying with a Texca family. Nearly sixty members of the family from ages six to sixty worked on the pieces and much of the potential significance of it owes to the participation of these people.

The form of the piece does not allude to human figures, but instead to what precedes life; Antony Gormley wanted to explore through this work what comes before physical appearance, what is “on the other side of life.” At the same time the work evokes an extraordinary gathering of silent and still beings, like those at a ceremony, in an environment of almost mystic serenity.

Block Works
The Blockwork series started as an attempt to make a body as a building, out of welded blocks of steel. How do you make a self-supporting brick wall of blocks, while at the same time following the contours of the form? Gormley describes the works as ‘an attempt to make the pixel physical: substituting the structure of a digital image for the anatomy of the body.’ The sculptures depend on there being a tension between the clarity of the steel blocks and a sense of exposure at the edge of the work, light and space seem to eat away at the embodied core.

The proportions of the Insiders are the result of digital scanning processes, beginning with relationships between the widest and narrowest parts of the body. Gormley sees these reduced forms as antennae for a particular kind of resilience that exists within all of us, that allows us to bear suffering but is itself created through painful experience. There is no judgement about this. Their bareness is not the nakedness that reveals the flesh, it is the result of having had the flesh taken away, a loss which is not sentimentalised, but accepted. The Insider tries to up the ante between being and nothingness.

Breathing Room
Breathing Room can be read as a three-dimensional drawing in space, hovering between being an image of architecture and being architecture itself. Changing from being an illuminated object and becoming self lit, the work assumes an unstable position between the virtual and the real, challenging the way in which space is described and contained by architecture.

Antony Gormley (London 1950) graduated in Archaeology, Anthropology and History from Trinity College, Cambridge and after a period in India, where he studied meditation, he studied art at the Central School of Art, Goldsmith College and at the Slade School of Fine Art. Among other awards, he won the prestigious Turner Prize in 1994. Gormley regularly uses his own body as a model, tool and material, and since the Nineties, his commitment to the human condition has led him to produce large-scale installations that reflect the nature of the collective body and one's relationship with others. His latest works relate more to energy systems, fields and vectors than to his former preference for mass and defined volume.

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August 20, 2009

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