Dundee contemporary Arts, Scotland. December 2017 – February 2018
Curated by Eoin Dara
The newly commissioned response to the gallery by Andrew Lacon is a bold and minimal undertaking. Fragments takes to form of a substantial yet subtle installation across the whole room that challenges our expectations regarding how artworks are presented. It asks questions about how certain raw materials are understood and valued in different contexts across space and time.
Lacon has long been interested in how public displays of objects can explore relationships between national culture, social class and artistic intention. This exhibition considers these ideas by focusing on one raw material now synonymous with the history of art and architecture: marble.
The exhibition comprises of one single object: a terrazzo marble floor. The work’s design – in structural, aesthetic and conceptual terms – references a wide range of touchstone, from pre-hispanic Aztec facades in Mexico, to ubiquitous crazy paving closer to home in the UK. The Artwork has also been created entirely by the artist’s own hand. It proudly bears the marks of hundreds of hours of artistic labour, eschewing the industrial processes and outsourced fabrication methods one might assume would come into play when creating an object of this scale.
Lacon’s practice has always been informed by his experience of art in his formative years, visiting municipal museums and churches where he encountered sculpture for the first time. These early influential trips continue to inform his thinking around art making, but we might trace the development of this new work at DCA back to a more recent 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 this journey mirror Lacon’s ongoing artistic investigation into the often complex political lives of materials: how they are obtained, appropriated, and used far from there places of origin. Fragments positions these expansive ideas in a deceptively simple way, using specific colours, shapes and forms to hint at underlying narratives and overlooked histories.
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 accompanies this work in our new publication, 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 provides an opportunity 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. Within this work lies a gentle invitation for us to be active participants within the exhibition, to re-think how we move through public spaces and encounter materials, objects and artworks in the world around us.