This exhibition is intended as a form of adventure that invites both physical and imaginative participation. The body in Gormley’s work is not a protagonist in a narrative, nor an ideal, a portrait or a memorial – it is the body in and as space.
Early experimental sculptures, objects and drawings – often made using his own body as a primary tool, material and subject – are brought together with large scale environments made especially for the RA. Using organic, industrial and elemental materials, such as iron, steel, lead, seawater and clay, the solidity and certainty of sculpture is put to the test, acknowledging entropy, disintegration, the experience of disorientation. Our understanding of matter itself is under scrutiny – what it means to have a body, when every ‘thing’ is essentially space and energy.
Sculpture, for Antony Gormley, is not treated as a ‘thing apart’, separate from its context; it is a means of interrogating and activating its space and place. His negotiation of the surface of the body, his preoccupation with the space within, treads the line between the body as a container of feeling, a living reality, our ‘condition’, and the body as an abstract entity.