Richard Serra’s works – primarily using forged and rolled steel – has always left impressive marks no matter where they were shown. At the Grand Palais in Paris, in public space in New York, at the Guggenheim – all of Serra’s exhibitions were highlights and at the same time very special experiences for the audience as his objects ground us right where we are: here and now.
Gagosian Gallery Britannia Street, London, is now presenting „Backdoor Pipeline, Ramble, Dead Load and London Cross“, four majestic new works of the artist. One room contains two massive pieces of forged steel, one resting on top the other, the upper solid block a few inches wider and longer than the one below.
In the other room a high wall of steel runs from corner to corner, partly above head height dividing it in two. Complemented by a similar sheet of steel, resting on top of the first sheet at the room’s midpoint, forming an X. Uncanny visitors can walk beneath and between these massive steel plates literally feeling their weight above them.
Richard Serra (born in 1939), one of the 20th century’s most respected and influential artists has often reacalled his childhood when he would visit Californian shipyards and later fund his college studies by working in steel mills. That might explain his close realationship to large-scale structures that also involve a engineering skills.
His minimalist approach demands strict focus on form and material, space and the rhythm of composition. His works are overwhelming as they are actually impossible: heavy and massive material turns into tenderness and elegance. Huge sheets of steel lean gently agains each other delicately balancing proportion, movement and presence in space.
Image: Richard Serra, Backdoor Pipeline, 2010, Weatherproof steel, Photo by Mike Bruce