Not so sculptural Sculpture in the city 2019

Running since 2010 The Sculpture in the City is in its ninth year. For 2019 edition the organisers scattered 21 sculptures around the business area of London famous for its iconic contemporary architecture buildings, known in short as the City. With several pieces remaining from the last edition, including the stunning ‘Bridging Home, London’ (2018) by Do Ho Suh balanced on Wormwood Street Footbridge, this year’s selection seems very unconventional. Taking a guided tour or exploring on your own with the help of online map you might find them all quite easily.

‘Bridging Home, London’ (2018) by Do Ho Suh

When I first heard of the Sculpture in the City I loved the idea. Contemporary sculpture out in the open, no entry tickets or queues to enter, what’s not to like. Museums and art galleries can be intimidating and taking art to the streets breaks this barrier between the viewer and art. It’s also great that local businesses do their bit and make art more accessible.

This year the participating artists represent an eclectic mix, and what one might call traditional figurative sculpture is almost absent, with a few exceptions. Conceptual and word-based sculptures or installations are quite prominent.

The neon sculpture ‘The Source’ (2017) featuring two hands suspended from the ceiling by Patrick Tuttofuoco and the giant neon ‘I’M STAYING’ (2014) by Shaun C. Badham are both located in Leadenhall Market. Because of their location, they might easily be taken for an advert of some sort, perhaps of a hip café.

‘The Source’ (2017) by Patrick Tuttofuoco

Nina Saunder’s Abstract Mass (2008) from a distance looks like a pair of off-white armchairs that somebody abandoned the middle of the pavement. Made of concrete and stainless steel they are anything but cosy or inviting. The artist arrives at her often surreal sculptures starting off with pieces of domestic furniture. (A splendid example of Saunder’s work titled Autumn Flowers (Chair) (2007) is in Pallant House Gallery, Chichester.) Positioned in a public open space the Abstract Mass is surrounded by concrete and tall glass buildings, which might prompt us to re-think our own relationship to public and private spheres. This idea relates to already mentioned work by Do Ho Suh, which is a to-scale replica of the artist’s childhood home (a traditional Korean house). Another work referencing domesticity, tradition and memory is textile installation Sari Garden (2018) by Clare Jarret.

Nina Saunder Abstract Mass (2008)

Site of the Fall – study of the renaissance garden: Action 180: At 9:15 am Sunday 28 May 1967 is a larger than life sculpture of an anonymous man with a sack over his head by Reza Aramesh. The artwork refers to Vietnam war and is based on images from the conflict as researched by the artist. The use of white Carrara marble and its form bring comparison with Michelangelo’s David (1501-1504), while its dignified pose in the face of imminent tragedy might be closer to the famous classical sculpture Dying Gaul (also known as Dying Gladiator).

Site of the Fall – study of the renaissance garden: Action 180: At 9:15 am Sunday 28 May 1967 by Reza Aramesh (2016)

Overall the installation is a bit of a hit and miss, as some of the artworks might easily be overlooked by a casual passer-by. For instance the conceptual installation on the wall of Leadenhall Building consists of words pasted all over the glass panels. Created by Lawrence Weiner ‘Within a realm of relative form’ (originally created in 2005) is quite ironic and philosophically sums up this year’s edition of Sculpture in the City. It reads as follows:

‘Within a realm of relative form

a pursuit of a form

an essential compression of a form

an essential expansion of a form

a degradation of a form

an objectification of whichsoever form

all together now’

Lawrence Weiner Within a realm of relative form (2005)
Lawrence Weiner ‘Within a realm of relative form’


9th edition of Sculpture in the City runs from 27th June until April 2020, needless to say accessible 24/7 and free.

One comment

  1. […] Visualising the sense of space, transformation of the tangible into something more ephemeral, fixing memory of a place into a piece of art, those are some of the elements recurring in Do Ho Suh’s works. The Korean artist (b.1962 in Seoul) is best-known for his immersive 1:1 scale textile replicas of homes he lived in over the years. One such project was Home within Home (2019) displayed at MMCA in Seoul. This is the second time the artist brought a piece of his native Korea into London. His Bridging Home (2018) installation was on display not far from the Mithraeum as part of Sculpture in the City (2018-2019) (see the image here). […]


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