Jonathan Owens presentation for the 2016 Edinburgh Art Festival comprises an exhibition of new drawings and sculpture alongside a major sculptural commission - one of seven new works commissioned by EAF as part of this year's commissions programme, entitled More Lasting Than Bronze - sited within the Burns Monument on Regent Road; a circular neo-classical pavilion, built in 1831 and originally intended to house Flaxmans life-size portrait of Robert Burns. Flaxmans sculpture was removed to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery soon after, amidst fears for its safety in a part of town then polluted by a local gasworks, and the monument has lain empty ever since. This summer, its doors will reopen to reveal Owens dramatic recarving of a 19th century white marble nymph.
Owen is an artist who makes work in both two and three dimensions by systematically transforming readymade images and objects. He is interested in making by reducing and removing, and in the controlled collapse of existing images and objects as a method of production and reactivation. All of his sculptures begin as something else eighteenth or nineteenth century marble pieces that have become almost invisible relics of another time. Out of fashion, devalued and often ignored, Owen breathes new life into them by re-carving them into disjointed, re-invigorated and poignant versions of their original selves.
His approach to drawing is the same: using a pencil filled not with lead, but with rubber, to erase parts of a photographic image reproduced in a book. Through nothing more than a process of rubbing out, Owen conjures new images that create an entirely new narrative, and which simultaneously leave a ghostly echo of what was there before. Despite his use of the word drawing to describe these works there is something more akin to carving in the action of using a tool to re-shape an existing material into something else.
has published a new monograph on Owens recent practice with texts by Maria Fusco and Director of Edinburgh Art Festival, Sorcha Carey, which will be celebrated with a booksigning at 6 Carlton Terrace, Saturday 13 August 4 5pm.