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Middelheim Museum opens an exhibition of works by Richard Deacon
Richard Deacon, Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow ‘B’, 1999 (left), I Remember (3), 2013 (right). Copyright and courtesy of the artist. Photo: Werner J. Hannappel.

ANTWERP.- Middelheim Museum is presenting Some Time, an exhibition of works by Richard Deacon. The exhibition features 31 works by this master of contemporary sculpture, including monumental and small-scale pieces, which have been installed in the renowned sculpture park and museum.

Some Time is focused around a major new commission, the resurrection of Deacon’s Never Mind, a key work from the collection acquired by the museum in 1993. This work has now been refabricated in stainless steel by Deacon for this landmark exhibition.

The title, Some Time, refers to both the provisional nature of time and, more literally, to a short period of time. The exhibition explores several key themes which Richard Deacon has revisited throughout his oeuvre over a period of more than 40 years. One artistic strategy which is central to the exhibition is the technique of refabrication. Deacon calls himself a fabricator and tests the resilience of materials, of language and the significance of objects to the extreme. Many of the works in the exhibition are wholly or partly based on refabrication including: When the Land Masses first Appeared (1986) and Bronze Skin (2002). By applying, or re-writing, a logical and consistent set of rules on the same basis or starting situation, the artist continues to push the boundaries, adding new possibilities in terms of meaning.

The sculpture Never Mind was first acquired by Middelheim Museum in 1993. The acquisition marked a historic moment for the museum which took a resolute step towards contemporary art at this time. Twenty-four years later, Deacon has worked in collaboration and consultation with the museum to refabricate the work and present it to new audiences. Never Mind has been stripped of its original wooden slats, and the original metal frame with metal base has been restored and re-coated with stainless steel strips.

An extension of Deacon’s concept of refabrication is his strategy of variation, a topic illustrated within the exhibition through the selection of six of the 33 ‘Infinity’ works, the Some More for the Road series (2007) and Alphabet U, Y and Z (2015). The term variation can apply to mathematics, music and biology. Deacon combines a keen observation of phenomena of change, deformation and displacement with a fascination for classification systems and cartography. Never Mind relates to the theme of variation as a retake, a new perspective and a return to a past form in order to innovate.

Deacon’s engagement with a diverse range of materials has seen him move between laminated wood, stainless steel, corrugated iron, polycarbonate, marble, clay, vinyl, foam and leather. This fascination with the possibilities of the most diverse materials propels him from one work to the next, bending the laws of what is incompatible to create complex, flowing shapes that charge and retreat, climb and descend. Deacon leaves visible the screws and rivets in his work so that the viewer is constantly reminded of the process of making, such as his complex tunnels of twisted wood, I Remember 1 (2012) and I Remember 3 (2013). Such transparency highlights the reactive nature of the process: it is part of a two-way conversation between artist and material. His interest is not limited merely to artistic experience but also to what man manufactures in order to connect with the world, thus combining both art and nonartistic phenomena to create a new kind of experience.

Deacon is perpetually experimental in his approach and has placed equal emphasis on language as on the material presence of his works. His interest in a conceptual interrogation of sculpture and linguistics, and his reading of poetry and philosophical texts, is evident in his choice of titles and his wide ranging activities as both a writer and educator. The exhibition is accompanied by a limited edition vinyl record as well as a catalogue featuring a dialogue between the artist and Sara Weyns, Director, Middelheim Museum.

“Richard Deacon belongs to a generation of artists who continue to keep the relevance and importance of sculpture at the forefront, especially in a context where the connection between materiality and concept becomes ever more complex,” said Sara Weyns, Director Middelheim Museum.

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