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Richard Deacon at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Strasbourg
Quick, 2009. Chêne et acier. 180 × 622 × 231 cm. Strasbourg, Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain. Photo : Ken Adlard.

STRASBOURG.- Born in Wales in 1949, Richard Deacon is internationally recognized as one of contemporary sculpture’s most influential figures. He quickly emerged as an exceptional fabricator of forms, the creator of an artistic universe fluidly embracing the living.

The Missing Part exhibition, designed in close collaboration with the artist, is a retrospective of 40 years of his work shown here for the first time as an assemblage of approximately forty sculptures and some 120 drawings, engravings and photographs.

Appearing on the English scene as a promising young sculptor in the early 1980’s, Richard Deacon quickly made a name for himself as a artist deeply committed to material. He works with ceramics, metal, wood, resin, paper, glass, plastic, leather and cloth and is a self-proclaimed fabricator. His sculptures never seek to hide technical operations behind them, including assemblage, riveting, torsion, stretching, folding or strapping… The creator of approximately thirty monumental-sized sculptures designed for urban or natural settings, Richard Deacon has also produced a multitude of medium-sized sculptures, works ranging from the human body’s scale to workshop height and smaller formats. His pieces are a direct invitation into the physical experience of sculpted object and a sensitive approach to material, their modes of fabrication and setting.

The sculptures’ forms suggest a biomorphic universe laden with sensuality, close to that of Arp’s. While oftentimes resonating with the register of organic life, they are also marked by a rigor that is intensely minimalist and materialist. The mobility and fluidity of Deacon’s forms envelop the spectator in a choreography of instability where enigma and metamorphoses, echoed by poetic titles, give image to the world’s complexity and relativity to our perceptions and knowledge. According to the artist “Not knowing is a good state of art”.

The exhibition brings together nearly forty sculptures, the product of 40 years of work of an amazing continuity. This is also a first-time presentation of his student work completed at Saint Martins College of Art and the Royal College of Art, sculptures, drawings, photographs and texts documenting performances; a tribute to the conceptual anchoring inside Deacon’s work and his attention to the creative process. Finally we see the important role drawing plays in Deacon’s creation, always central to the artist’s sculptural research, as for his photography.

When the visitor enters the museum, s/he is greeted by a very large format sculpture entitled QUICK, (181 x 622 x231 cm), created by Richard Deacon in 2009 in view of his retrospective exhibition and today an integral part of the collection at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Strasbourg. The oak elements composing the piece were first bent by steaming, then clamped and strapped onto metal and assembled using a system of metal fixtures, unfurling in serpentine lines, the masterpiece is the embodiment of artistic maturity, synthesizing numerous fundamental elements of his sculpture. While voluntarily showing the technical operations from which it originated, it brings to mind a multitude of visual metaphors, leaving the spectator with a sense of vertigo as we gaze the tangled threads woven around a hollow center playing the role of organizing structure.

QUICK, with its multiple meanings, lively, rapid, agile, instantly evokes the energy and ductility of living matter.

The artist chose to call the exhibition THE MISSING PART, humorous allusion to its retrospective nature, to outline the many years he has left to create, but also as a way of emphasizing one of the fundamental givens of his work, the vital role played by hollowness, the void, which the artist seeks to insert into his sculptural approach, thereby inscribing it in the grand tradition of modern sculpture, inherent in the first cubist constructions that made empty space a structuring element of form.

Richard Deacon | Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Strasbourg | The Missing Part exhibition |

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