I saw the place I was in that I never saw
what could have been, what isn’t there, what could still be.
The space between
the artist and the work, the work and the viewer.
The presence of the artist looms large in Barry Flanagan’s absence. Blueprints, thumbprints, fingerprints, and the impression of his force mark the work. He tells us to STAND and we are frozen before this hanging fabric, silently aware of our movements, aware of his intentions. Droves of frozen hares also loom large; weightless, gilded, dancing, standing, thinking, leaping.
The leaping hare is a flicker in time, a moment rarely seen, a fleeting phenomenon, lost to human eyes. Here it is preserved forever. A constant, towering, monumental figure of Flanagan’s art,
perfectly balanced and perfectly poised.
Three hazel branches hold up a large sheet. Their placement determines the piece, it all rests on them. Using the architecture of the room, relying on it. Fragile, ‘jump-and-it’s-gone,’ natural, empty, soft minimalism.
Empty space used as sculpture; Barry draws through it. Rope slinks round the gallery’s corners, leading you through, cut-outs assume their own form as they hang in the air. Light used as sculpture; it manipulates your shadow as it manipulates colours on the wall and emanates from the tv.
A hole in the sea. Devoid of light, manipulating the world around it, the hole remains despite the tide’s best efforts. It is otherworldly, indefinable, impossible to remove.
From weightless hares to seemingly unmovable fabric objects. Filled with sand, stitched together, tied together, strong enough to stop a car. Not wily or unpredictable, but stoic and fixed. Poured sand is always nearby, poured into the works, poured onto the gallery floor, poured onto the naked body of a woman; ‘a classical symbol of fine art’, we are told. The body’s impression on grass, the body made obvious in the making of the bronze,
the body of the hare,
your body within it all.
These ideas run through the body of Flanagan’s work. Wildly differing visuals share the same underlying experience: the making of the work, inventing the organisations and limits with which he would work. What can his work encompass? Using the physical to move into sound and into light, forging conversations with the viewer that take place outside of what we see in front of us.