Fragments, Eoin Dara
a piece or a part, especially when broken from something whole
to break something into smaller parts or to be broken up in this way
A noun names something, identifies it, grounds it in meaning. A verb activates, does something, suggests movement, change, flux.
It’s necessary to bear both the noun and the verb form of the word in mind when considering Andrew Lacon’s newest work, Fragments. The artist has of course created some thing – there is a beautiful new object in the gallery for us to consider – but significantly he has also created a space for movement, action and participation. To step into this exhibition is to physically step onto the artwork – not something we’re exactly used to doing in a gallery.
Subtle yet substantial, this work takes the form of a new terrazzo floor that sprawls across the entire space. Challenging typical assumptions about how art is presented and appreciated, the artist elegantly asks us to re-think how we move through public spaces and encounter materials, objects and artworks in the world around us. We need only consider the antithetical act of constructing a fragment, something that would typically come from an act of destruction, to get a sense of the willful transgression that complicates meaning in every facet of this project.
Lacon has long been interested in how displays of objects can enable exploration of relationships between national culture, social class and artistic intention. Fragments does this by focusing on a single raw material arguably synonymous with the history of art and architecture: marble.
Lacon’s practice has always been informed by his experience of art in formative years, visiting municipal museums and churches where he encountered sculpture for the first time. More recently we might trace the development of this new work at DCA back to a journey the artist made from Mexico City to Birmingham in 2015, carrying a cotton rucksack filled with a stack of pink marble through customs. Aspects of that journey mirror his ongoing investigation into the often complex political lives of materials: how they are obtained, appropriated, and used far from their places of origin.
This generous and expansive work references a multitude of influential touchstones, from pre-Hispanic Aztec facades in Central America to ubiquitous crazy paving closer to home. Lacon’s joyous use of colour also blends together allusions to classical antiquity as well as European and Mexican baroque traditions. In the essay that follows, Kit Hammonds, Curator at Museo Jumex in Mexico City, unpacks many of these concerns, musing on the ‘deliberate, deluxe-lite sense of grandeur’ evoked in the creation of this work that straddles the Atlantic in its conceptual reach.
Fragments is an open invitation to literally step up and consider the gallery space anew. There’s nothing to look at on the walls – only a soft aura of colour that shifts from pink to green, yellow, blue and orange as you move across the space. Look down to find the source of this aura. Consider these interlocking slabs beneath your feet, pulsating with potential.