Scottish artist Martin Boyce pursues the spirits of modernity. He combines elements of architecture, design and art of the early 20th century with references to poetry and nature, as well as movements like film noir and post-punk music. In this way, a somewhat narrative and melancholic atmosphere is generated, undermining the classical avant-gardeʼs claim of autonomy - ie independence from time, place and content. Boyce intends more than mere quotations of the past: He uses existing images and investigates how something new can emerge from them.
Boyce became known for sculptures made of metal or concrete, alluding to apartment blocks, ventilation grilles or lighting systems. His references to the built utopias of Charles and Ray Eames, Gerrit Rietveld and Jan and Joël Martel tend to involve a dark, mysterious undertone: The functionality of buildings or objects not only transports the ideology of modernity, to build a better life, but tells of dreams and longings that float like ghosts through our presence. This subtle notion of transience gives Boyce's work a romantic angle.
Boyceʼs photographic works are to be understood as echoes of his sculptures. The series Spook School, which consists of 21 parts and is being shown at CAPRI for the first time, is a further development of A Partial Eclipse (2012), which came to existance almost incidentally during travels: with views out of a car, from a hotel roomʼs window or on the street Boyce addresses situations of urban design - park benches, hotel facades, courtyards - and filters out the light, giving his photographs the morbid, mysterious character typical for Boyceʼs work.
This is also apparent in the photographic series shown at CAPRI. It depicts the interior of the burnt Glasgow School of Art: a building, constructed 1897-1909 by the famous Scottish Art Nouveau architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which in its simplicity is considered an icon of the early 20th centuryʼs architecture. During a fire in May 2014 it was heavily damaged. Having studied there, Boyce was granted access to the building and took pictures of the rooms. The result is a series of 21 photographs, in correspondence to which Boyce installs at CAPRI a group of charred wood pieces from the Academy: A reminder of what once was addressed towards the future.
Martin Boyce (born 1967 in Hamilton, Scotland, lives and works in Glasgow) is one of the most important sculptors today. In 2009 he represented Scotland at the 53th Venice Biennial. In 2011 he won the Turner Price. He has shown solo exhibition, amongst others, at Kunstmuseum Basel (2015), SculptureCenter New York (2008), Westfälischer Kunstverein Münster (2008), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2008) and MMK Frankfurt (2002).
Text: Gesine Borcherdt, Curator of CAPRI