In his first solo exhibit in the U.S., British sculptor Nick Hornby takes on the icons of his practice and pulls their works into the present with four new works. At the centre of Churner and Churner, New York, stands the outline of one of the most famous artworks in the world, Michelanglo’s David. The relaxed contrapposto of David – the apotheosis of the grand narrative of human perfectibility – moves to zero, having been extruded to a single point and balanced upright. Half a ton of 150 micron marble dust glued together balances on a tip that hovers just above the ground.
Erect on a pin point, the gleaming white of reconstituted marble, is supported by a boulder. Rather than shipping a boulder from a quarry, Hornby flew in a traditional stone carver from Carerra, Italy, and comissioned him to model a “rock” in terracotta. Through a dialogue between the two artists, the resultant boulder was cast.
Contained within the boulder is the metal armature which supports the sculpture connected to a sub-ground foundation. The Present is Just a Point may seem to float on its point, but it is grounded, though the floor, to a subground foundation and the ground below that. Even as the sculpture visibly stops before reaching zero, it continues beneath the floor: there is an counterbalance beyond the viewer’s sight, allowing this massive object to stand thought the support of an equal but opposite (and invisible) support below.
David’s face appears in a second work, 6º Takes One Minute, this time mirrored upon itself at a degree angle to make a new compound face. The result is an anamorphosis, the face skewed so severely that it is recognizable only from an acute angle. Upright on a plinth, the marble resin stretches upwards, a platonic eruption of streamlined utopians. Shifted ninety degrees, a bronze cast of this Pinocchioesque head is suspended in a cage, much like that of Giacometti’s Nose. In both the resin and bronze versions, the profile becomes an unsettling moment of aggression, not quite the gun-shaped sculpture of Giacometti, but a startling disfiguration of beauty.
At the other extremity of the gallery, Hornby departs from his more typical gleaming white curves with nine photographs. In Back Towards Flat, The artist has digitally manipulated Matisse’s The Backs (1909-31) in order to extrapolate hypothetical future iterations beyond Matisse’s works, themselves a progression further and further into abstraction as the modeling of flesh gave way to geometric forms.Here the relationship between figure and ground, already at stake in Matisse’s production, falls away, and the compromised forms collapse not into difference but repetition. In Sculpture (1504-2013), Hornby asks: Does repetition tend towards entropy, or does it project towards infinity? Or is it, rather, a subtle fade to black, an ellipses that carries us across five hundred years?
Nick Hornby is a British artist living and working in London, England. He has exhibited in the UK, the US, Switzerland, Greece, and India, including Tate Britain, Southbank Centre, Fitzwilliam Museum, United Kingdom; Eyebeam, New York; and The Hub, Athens, Greece. His work will be shown at the Museum of Art and Design, New York, in Fall 2013, and he recently exhibited with Sinta Tantra at One Canary Wharf in 2013. Hornby was a 2011 artist in residence at Eyebeam, New York. Other residencies include the ICIA (Mumbai), and the Fleischmann Foundation (Slovakia). He has been awarded several Prizes including the Clifford Chance Sculpture Prize, RBKC Artists’ Professional Development Bursary, the Deidre Hubbard Sculpture Award, and the BlindArt Prize; and he was shortlisted for the inaugural Spitalfields Sculpture Prize and the Mark Tanner Sculpture Prize. His work has been featured on Artforum.com, Wired, Conde Naste Traveler, and Out, among others. He has a special commission permanently sited at the Andaz 5th Avenue, New York, and the Poznan-Lawica Airport, Poland, as part of the 2012 Third Mediations Biennale.
written by Margot Maxwell