Urs Fischer and Georg Herold (3 stars)

Sculpture exhibiition examining the art-making process

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On a red divan a reclining nude has settled into a classical pose. She appears completely still, her milk white skin wraps serenely around her hyper-real body, her glassy blue eyes complete the life like sculpture. Upon closer inspection the rise and fall of her stomach reveals that she is flesh and blood. This confrontation with a life model is the part of the exhibition that is most intriguing.

Her surroundings are something between a deserted studio space and an unfinished gallery installation. A series of clay figurines, displayed on rough edged non-pristine white plinths, captures poses clearly derived from working with life models. In a joint project Urs Fischer and Georg Herold took up residency in the gallery and used it as a studio. To add to the transformation of the space the back wall of the gallery has been knocked out revealing the original wall of the former bathhouse.

Fischer has ripped out walls before and in 2007 he led an excavation in New York’s Gavin Brown gallery where he dug out the entire floor space eight feet deep. The entropic fate of the unfired clay sculptures here is exemplary of his practice. These will all be left to crack and crumble until the end of the show after which they will be preserved. The more abstracted, elongated figures look like they have been sculpted by the hands of Georg Herold, but where he normally takes pleasure in using unconventional materials the use of clay is surprisingly orthodox.

Machismo abounds and the air feels thick with historical references to art making processes. At the back the inclusion of the model’s intimate changing area brings a tenderness to the viewer’s experience. It is the navigation around the objects in the space and specifically around the nameless female nude that brings a renewed awareness to how we engage with exhibitions. What is not clear is the intention behind staging this pseudo re-enactment.

Are we really that comfortable in scrutinising an unknown naked body in the same way as a sculpture replicating her? This exhibition presents a generous opportunity to find out.

The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Sat 3 Sep.

Urs Fischer & Georg Herold

  • 3 stars

Work by young Swiss artist Fischer and veteran German artist Herold.

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