A series of large woodblock prints based on seven distinct body poses, relate to a key work by Gormley entitled Expansion Field, 2014, which applies the principles of an expanding universe to the subjective space of the body. At nearly three metres in height, the prints are made from blocks of sawn plywood to create multiple, ghost-like impressions of a bodily architecture.
A series of crude oil and petroleum jelly body prints were made by Gormley lying directly on the paper, the weight of his body leaving a corresponding print. These prints, one of which is currently on show alongside one of the woodblocks at the Royal Academy of Arts, register, like a shadow or a footprint, a lived moment in time. Gormley’s sacral use of crude oil as representative of the "blood of the earth" highlights our dependency on the planet’s solar memory.
Ten aquatints, entitled Matrix I - X and constructed from single plates, carry the silhouette of architectural blocks printed one on top of the other. This accumulation of black conveys a sense of inner embodied darkness. Each plate is created with rosin ground by hand, the resulting particles gently sifted through a sieve before being heated to make a granular ground.
Gormley continues his exploration of the fundamentals of printmaking with a suite of linear etchings incised with a needle. In this series Gormley returns to a graphic mode of representation. The prints evoke states of embodiment and freedom; an enmeshment within a bound body which fragments as it is released into space.
Antony Gormley at Thumbprint Editions, London
About the artist
Gormley's work has developed the potential opened up by sculpture since the 1960s through a critical engagement with both his own body and those of others in a way that confronts fundamental questions of where human beings stand in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise.
Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, explores Gormley’s wide-ranging use of organic, industrial and elemental materials over the years, including iron, steel, hand-beaten lead, seawater and clay. Works from his 45-year career, including sculptures, prints, drawings, pocket sketchbooks, are exhibited together with new installations from 21 September – 3 December 2019.
Photo: Stephen White