Artist talk: Nathaniel Rackowe in conversation with Jon Wood (Henry Moore Institute): 8 April 2010, 19:00 - 20:00.
Produced during his residency in Beirut, Nathaniel Rackowe’s new works have developed from his growing appreciation of the architectural forms and structures of the city. His drawings and sculptures cohere to form a visual response to the environment created by modernist architecture, its subsequent failures and the aesthetics of regularity and repetition.
Rackowe’s architectural objects take their cue from the environment which they inhabit. Using motion and a palette of industrial supplies, his sculptures expand on scaffolding poles, asphalt, cinder blocks and corrugated iron as support structures for dazzling light sources. The resulting constructs conceal, as much as they sublime, the light they emit, and inform the legacy of chiaroscuro compositions with the formal vocabulary of industrial regeneration.
Beirut 1-15 is a series of duo-tone drawings with direct associations to changing urban landscapes, and referencing the colours of building works near the artist’s studio in Beirut. It depicts Modernist edifices isolated from any surrounding landscape that would give clues to their origins, inhabitants or use. The works evoke the dysfunction of vast, abandoned urban spaces, as the housing sites represented are darkened by the absence of life and the debris of passing time.
The deep blue corrugated roofing sheets that enwraps LP25 (Beirut) is common in both construction and temporary sheltering. The exterior surface and color dominate the piece, although its interior activity is also clearly visible, as light sources reveal the life within and the structure of the shell. With LP25 (Beirut), Rackowe directs our attention to architecture, its ability to structure human actions and interactions. In these new works, Beirut and its connotations of failed utopianism provide context for Rackowe’s ongoing exploration of the impossible space between the ideal and the built city.
Nathaniel Rackowe (b. 1977) graduated from the Slade with a MFA in Sculpture. Since his graduation, Nathaniel has exhibited his work internationally including the ICA (London), The Economist Plaza (Contemporary Art Society, Bischoff/Weiss (London), Galerie Almine Rech (Paris), and Baibakov Art Projects (Moscow). Nathaniel completed a Delfina Foundation residency in Beirut, Lebanon.
Jon Wood works at the Henry Moore institute, where he coordinates the academic research programme and curates exhibitions.