Under Lisson’s bright protective alcove, rounded shapes rebound off each other, inviting us to encounter the world of British artist Richard Long. Long is a sculptor who has been an influential element of the Land art movement since the 1960’s.
Using walks as a starting point to his emancipated artistic process, Long allows nature to dictate the tones and shapes of his work. Directly influenced by the immateriality of the landscapes, it is the artist’s choice to reject the commerciality of art to favour nature’s primal beauty as an artistic endeavour. A Line Made by Walking was his first artistic creation in 1967, a photograph representing a meandering path-like impression of footsteps in a meadow.
Although the majority of his works appear basic, in the context of the time, they were quite revolutionary. Using little material and expressing his thoughts with candour and sincerity, Long transports whoever is willing, to voyage virtually into a dimension of his own creation.
The artist recounts his steps through photographs, texts and maps; the essence of his experimentation. At times, he brings back borrowed natural elements while at others , he alters the landscape, leaving minimal marks on nature.
Long produces more than just a sculpture or a mere photograph. He leaves his imprints on site or returns with distinct symbols, conceptualising his art either way, expanding his practice to performance.
His oeuvre is consistently identifiable by materials such as mud, stones, sticks and circular shapes. Structured solitary sentences often gravitate around the creations. Although Long’s pieces originate in nature he testifies that the gallery setting is just as important as the frame of a landscape.
The exhibition at Lisson is a gathering of five works spanning from 2002 to 2018. A sculpture on the floor, text on the walls, a photograph, and a mud installation are the orbit around which viewers are invited to wander.
We may not experience his escapades but we are able to see through his eyes and share his interpretations, which emotionally enrich and visually captivate. An incommensurable amount of energy vibrating and emanating from the flints and the gestures on the wall resonate within ourselves.
The installation in situ photographed may or may not still be present when we glance at it. More than just physical evidence than the artist leaving his own personal trace, an ongoing dialogue between the image, words and materials remain, ever-present.
The texts on the walls reflect the poetry expressed in the various elements. The mention of space, circle, the Earth, moonrise, sunrise blends with the evocation of “waking”, “shining” and “vanishing”, impose a delicate melody contrasting the perfect geometrical shapes and roughness of the mud.
The artist simply and authentically describes what has existed since the Earth was created. His words and perspective on life reach their apogee when they are expressed honestly from a human being who has devoted his entire existence to creating a language available exclusively for the passionate, the sensitive and the hopeful.
Circle to Circle: Richard Long at Lisson Gallery (11 May to 23 June 2018)