(selected by Michelle Cotton)
Robert Orchardson makes sculptures inspired by science fiction imagery and futuristic design, using lo-tech materials such as wood and resin or found objects. He has a nostalgia for the utopian tendencies of the modernist period and focuses on shapes and objects which defined that aesthetic.
Forms pictured briefly in novels or film are crafted as abstracted sculptures; a pattern from a film still is rendered as a wooden screen, low-tech resin casts playfully suggest mineral forms in an alien landscape or vintage curios.
Freeze-framing fantasy, Orchardson explores the spiritual and conceptual investment in the formal language of the modern. His work often has a spiritual quality to it and a kind of optimism, drawn from an interest in modernist and futurist architecture and design. (Michelle Cotton).
In Perfect Vacuum (Wilkinson Gallery, London, until 16 October 2005), Orchardsons first solo exhibition in London, 'Mimoid', 2005, references the Tulip Table designed by Eero Saarinen, but the title of the piece is taken from the novel Solaris by Stanislav Lem. In the novel mimoid (a word created in the novel from mimic) describes the strange forms that emerge and dissolve back into a living and thinking ocean, on the planet Solaris. 'Integral Model', 2005 was inspired by We, a futuristic novel written in the 1920s by Yvgeny Zamyatin (thought to be a precursor to other famous novels such as Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Huxley's Brave New World) where a society is controlled to a mathematical precision and lives in surroundings made only of glass so everyone can be seen.
Orchardson recalls the depiction of the utopian design but makes his piece not from glass but, in contrast, using the natural form of wood as if creating a prototype for an alternative idealism. The shapes from 'Cathedral', 2005, were inspired by part of a modernist cathedral in America and 'Untitled I', 2004 by a building in Brasilia. In reusing these Modernist forms it is as if he is again, creating a prototype or transitionary work which suggests an alternative use or way of looking. The transitionary quality in his work is also found in the way he uses found objects in works such as 'Presence, 2005 and 'Remnant', 2005, where discarded metal objects are transformed into sculptural forms.
In the first floor space, 'World Without Worlds', 2005 consists of two elements, a circular wall piece with a geometric pattern made by taking a cast from a found object which is hung on the wall behind a screen, an ongoing element of Orchardson's work. It was made using imagery taken from the Stargate sequence of the film 2001 : A Space Odyssey, famous for its psychedelic special effects. Orchardson uses wood for the screen to contrast with the high tech imagery in the film. The screen brings to mind Op Art from the 1960s, but Orchardson also had in mind a screen as used by modernist architects as a means to divide space. As well as creating new space the screen also acts as a means through which other objects can be seen and transformed in relation to each other. In this piece, as in 'Presence', 2005, the space between two objects becomes as important as the objects themselves.
'Typically, the gaps between the objects become almost more relevant than the objects themselves. As in language, his work is shaped by both words and pauses; never concluded, it appears in fragments, in attempts. Lying against a wall or in precarious equilibrium, Orchardson's works seem to occasionally allow for a change of position, to form a new sentence. They seem to allude to a undeciphered and secret space that is beyond language.' (Cecilia Canziani, text for Beyond, Monitor Gallery, Rome, 2005).
Robert Orchardson, originally from Glasgow, is based in London and graduated from Goldsmiths College in 2004. He has recently completed two commissions in Scotland for a new College of Dance in Dundee and for Dundee City Airport.
Solo exhibitions include Beyond, Monitor Gallery, Rome, 2005, Symmetriad, Galerie Ben Kauffman, Munich, 2004 and News from Nowhere, the Changing Room Gallery, Stirling (2002). He is currently showing in Bloomberg New Contemporaries, 2005 and Arte all'Arte in Tuscany, and has been invited to present a commission for the Economist Building, London in November 2005.
He is represented by the Wilkinson Gallery, London, Galerie Ben Kaufmann, Munich, and Monitor Gallery, Rome.
Interview, Flash Art
Interview with Robert Orchardson and Jacob Cook following their joint exhibition curated by Paola Capata and Cecilia Canziani under the joint title Beyond, in Monitor Gallery, Rome, 2005. Questions to... read on