There have been times that I’ve struggled to get inside an artist’s head. This week Antony Gormley made it easy. And it wasn’t just his head, but his legs, torso and sundry other parts too. This was Model, his latest in a string of artworks based on his own body, currently on show at White Cube in Bermondsey.
When I arrived at the gallery door I was presented with a lengthy health disclaimer to read and sign. As I did so, other people were leaving, all looking disorientated and with bemused smiles muttering “amazing”, “excellent”.
Paperwork completed, I strode past a vast structure that resembled a pile of metal boxes and stepped inside the “left foot”. Total darkness. Slowly, cagily I shuffled through, scared to miss my step, waving my arms above my head to shield it and bumping into other people as the word “sorry” echoed all around.
I climbed on a ledge and crawled along the “spine”, then doubled back and stumbled through the stomach. I ran my hands over different textures and discovered crannies where I felt sure walls should have been and walls where it seemed as though there should be passageways.
Instead of the curves of Richard Serra’s monumental steel works, this was all angles: sharp and inhuman. It made me think of robot dolls with rotating cubes for bodies. Has Gormley moved to a stage where he now thinks of art, and the people associated with it, in terms of mechanics?
Other artworks scattered around White Cube, also based on Gormley’s body, and a room full of models of Model, reinforced this impression. As I left, I spotted Hinge II, an intriguing sculpture of two figures becoming one in an embrace. Perhaps gallery owner Jay Jopling could sell it to St Pancras station, to replace the ghastly sculpture of the kissing couple beneath the clock. Let’s at least hope that some of these stimulating works end up on public view, so that everyone can continue to get inside Gormley.
Until 10 February 2013