The sculptures, starkly iconographic constructions assembled from a wide range of contrasting materials unified through the figures’ cast-like metallic finish, draw upon the High Modernist aesthetics of Picasso, Miró, Ernst and others, realigning aspects of early Modernism with several present-day concerns. Not least amongst these is the artist’s critical recognition of the now ubiquitous language of advertising and management-speak, a powerfully influential force within our increasingly dehumanising, money-driven culture.
Such language is rendered as an integral part of the sculptures’ material form. More generally, staged for this exhibition in a tribal cluster, these organic yet funereal “beings” operate both individually and as a coherent compositional group. As a recurrent formal device within these works, the framed voids or blank gaze of the creatures’ empty eye sockets partly allude to the peep holes found in the door of Marcel Duchamp’s Etant Donnés. These hypnogogic figures raise questions around representation, consciousness, “Otherness”, and even about the long-term survival of the human race.
The drawings seek an elusive balance between personal meaning and experimental play. Visual traces of imaginary characters emerge from the intricate linearity of these works, largely composed as they are of borrowed sound-bites and other linguistic detritus. Crews traps curious, sometimes idiotic utterances such as “bespoke panic button” and “the phony Persian”, weaving these absurdities into his drawings, which themselves feed in an important way into his sculptures.
A selection of sketchbooks detailing the development and recording of the artist’s interests in painting, sculpture, and language can be seen in the display cabinet.
Sohrab Crews was born in London in 1978. He completed a BA at Chelsea College of Art in 2001. His solo shows include Extra Life (Vainart, Venice, 2014) and Extinction Play (Allen & Overy, London, 2014). Extra Life, a book of Crews’ drawings, was published by Budbury in 2013.