Gego. Line as Object

This week a new show of work by the Venezuelan artist Gego opened at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. The Institute presents an ongoing programme of different exhibitions, exploring the history of sculpture from the early 1900’s onwards. I always look forward to the opening of a new show as I never know quite what to expect. The experience can be exciting, inspiring, alienating or baffling.

The latest show sees the layout of the Institute changed, with an initial short corridor folding back on itself where there is usually a single room. This creates a feeling that the artist’s work is altering the space it occupies, something  that seems very much in line with Gego’s thinking. Initially the visitor is presented with a series of small metal sculptures that to my mind recalled dream catchers and tribal objects. The effect is half anthropological display and half post-apocalyptic remnants. The pieces are tactile yet elusive.

As the exhibition unfolds, sharply geometric forms hang from the ceiling and rise from the floors, suggesting the artist has literally drawn the work onto the empty spaces. The sculptures both contain and define parts of the room. Set free, they allow the visitor to experience them from multiple angles. It’s a shame that this couldn’t have been taken even further. According to the visitor guide and photos on display, Gego filled whole spaces with her work. It would have been interesting to see how much more immersive the show would have been if even more of her work were on display

The show finishes with a series of the artist’s deceptively simple collages from the early 90’s. As someone who loves collage work, I found these very engaging.

This is definetly a show for the mind rather than the heart. It’s difficult to be moved by these pieces but they suggest imaginative possibilities and seem to hover somewhere between high concept Sci-Fi and physicist’s notepad. It’s worth checking out.

Equally worth a look is the single room display D’Arcy Thompson’s On Growth and Form which includes some of Thompson’s wonderful zoological models and beautiful works by Henry Moore. This is all very organic and makes for a nicely fleshy companion to Gego’s work. Fans of Moore – of which I’m one – should check this out.

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