Now at Los Angeles gallery Kayne Griffin Corcoran, the internationally renowned sculptor Mark Handforth presents six new artworks. His over-sized renditions of mundane objects are playful, mysterious, and celebratory. Handforth was born in Hong Kong, grew up in the UK, studied in Frankfurt and London, and now lives in Miami; consequentially, his work bridges several cultural heritages and aesthetic discourses. He has said that he doesn’t think of himself as a sculptor, but rather as an artist who makes sculptures and loves all mediums.
Much of Handforth’s work is monumentally scaled, minimal, and incorporates familiar imagery as recurring motifs, such as telephones and bent-wire hangers, making his formal and aesthetic concerns very relatable. According to Handforth, “The artistic conversation is regarded by many as elitist and you’re trying to say that this is everyone’s conversation because this is what culture is. The whole point of culture is that it’s everyone; if it’s not everyone, it’s clearly not culture.” His recent sculpture Alan Watts (2014)presents the viewer with a wire clothes hanger almost 16 feet tall and more than 10 feet wide; its graceful, linear curves allude to drawing and figurative imagery. The work is named after a British philosopher who popularized East Asian philosophical and religious thought in the West, and it can be seen as a reflection of the esoteric mythos of Buddhism and Hinduism, and the two traditions’ interest in formal pleasure and simplicity.
Handforth’s work also recalls earlier sculptors, such as Claes Oldenburg and John Chamberlain. Like Oldenburg, Handforth enlarges common goods to mammoth proportions, giving the everyday a sense of levity and wonder in its newfound enormity. Likewise, his use of painted and bent metal recalls Chamberlain, whose sculptures made of crushed cars resemble Handforth’s modeling of crushed wire, or the recurrent sheared stelliform in works like Turquoise Star (2014). “It’s a way of taking this very simple gesture and giving it form and allowing you to experience it in a different way,” Handforth says of his work. Thus he makes overlooked objects vibrant once more, arousing our curiosity.
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