Wallace Chan showcases 10 of his large-scale titanium and iron sculptures at One Canada Square
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Wallace Chan showcases 10 of his large-scale titanium and iron sculptures at One Canada Square
Wallace Chan, A Dialogue between Materials and Time XIV.

LONDON.- Chinese multidisciplinary artist Wallace Chan is showcasing 10 of his large-scale titanium and iron sculptures for his exhibition TITANS: A dialogue between materials, space and time. Located at the vast lobby of the iconic One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, the exhibition runs from 21st February - 8th April 2022 as part of their ongoing public sculpture programme. Canary Wharf is home to London’s largest collection of outdoor public art collected over 30 years with more than 75 free-standing and integrated architectural sculptures. It has a decade-long history of commissioning award winning art programmes and installation and is a long-standing celebration of culture and the arts.

The exhibition, curated by James Putnam, explores Chan’s contemplation on the relationship between materials, space and time through titanium: a futuristic, space age material that has long been the subject of his experimental impulses. The russet, oxidised iron contrasts the titanium’s polished silver surface and both materials evoke the passage of time; iron will eventually rust away while titanium can last for eternity.

A selection of the sculptures on display were previously exhibited at Chan’s first major sculpture exhibition in Venice in 2021. However, this exhibition also showcases three brand new works: TITANS XIV, TITANS XV and TITANS XVI. The central motif of many of these majestic, semi-figurative sculptures is a colossal head whose facial features are serene yet strong, with a peaceful aura reminiscent of a deity statue. The head is often distorted and elongated, almost anamorphic, simultaneously ancient and somewhat extraterrestrial. One of the new works, TITANS XIV, is a 5 metre high monolithic sculpture and has been situated at the fountain in Cabot Square, in the foreground of Canary Wharf’s iconic building alongside the work of renowned sculptors Henry Moore and Lynn Chadwick.

Curator and writer James Putnam says, “The verticality of the sculpture’s elongated multi-tiered silver face creates a fitting dialogue with the 50 story steel clad skyscraper that rises behind it on the London skyline. By juxtaposing two very different sculptural materials, Chan evokes a sense of duality, where the lightness and durability of titanium is contrasted with iron’s weightiness and susceptibility to corrosion.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a sound installation by composer and sound healer Alistair Smith, after a concept by Yukiko Kakuta. Believing his music exemplifies both ascendant continuity and Earthly ephemerality, the installation is a fitting accompaniment to the sculptures of Wallace Chan, with Smith stating: "The music is intended to enhance the experience and striking presence of Wallace Chan's work”.

Wallace Chan is one of the world’s most celebrated jewellery artists, but his accomplishments in sculpture – an art form that he has been practicing for almost half a century – are less well known. As a carving apprentice at aged 16, opaque stones such as malachite, jade and coral were his materials, and auspicious Chinese motifs were his inspiration. Chan developed his skills and learnt the art of Western sculpture by visiting Christian cemeteries and admiring the marble sculptures of saints and angels. After six months of devoted monkhood in the early 2000s and having given up all his possessions, Chan found himself in the complete absence of artistic resources. Therefore he had to make sculptures using just found and discarded materials such as concrete, copper and stainless steel.

Whatever his medium, Chan is continuously driven by a fascination with materials and a desire to push them beyond their limits. Titanium, named after the immortal ‘Titans’ in Greek mythology, is the strongest, most durable and lightweight metal. Mainly used in the aerospace industry, titanium has been overlooked by artists due to its cost and complex production process. After many years of careful research and experimentation, Chan developed a method of working with titanium initially for his jewellery and more recently for his large-scale sculptures. Today he employs a range of sculpture techniques: from modelling and casting to carving, welding and assembling, Chan creates titanium sculptures that are very rarely seen on this scale.

Wallace Chan says, “The large-scale titanium sculptures come from a lifetime of memories and experiences, including my early years creating carvings and sculptures inspired by Greek mythology. TITANS, named after a group of super-strong giants, connects my present to my past. The series also acts as a passage to the future; carved and sculpted with a material as strong and resistant as titanium, my sculptures act as time capsules."

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