Anthony Gormley: Can’t figure it out?
Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion is a beautiful building, enhanced by its position on the shore and its sharp, simple lines. Inside it’s bright and clean, on the roof, however, is an installation by Gormley that doesn’t, in my opinion, enhance the experience.
Am I alone in thinking that we’ve had enough of these cast metal figures from Gormley? What more is there to do or say with the technique? In this case we have sixty figures in twelve basic poses lying on the roof. At first they look as though they’ve been placed at random. However, they have actually been placed on the metal crossbeams of this Grade 1 listed building. Built in 1935, from a welded steel frame, the heavy solid figures had to be carefully laid onto the metal girders to prevent the roof from collapsing. Now there’s something odd about an aesthetic spectacle driven by the necessity of a building’s internal structure. It's a matter of convenience not art.
The figures are fine but the artist’s references to ‘sky burial’ are bogus, as the piece was made for an internal setting, a Viennese railway shed. This is typical of an aesthetic view that says, make of it what you will, art is just a trigger for any old tosh that you want to imagine or verbalise. The view from the roof is stunning, especially on a sunny, windy day from Beachy head along the pebble beach and the turquoise sea. These figures just lie there lifeless, inert and irrelevant. Gormley’s in danger of becoming a one trick pony.