The 12th Edition of the celebrated free annual exhibition of public art, Sculpture in the City, features newly-included works for 2023 by Phyllida Barlow, Larry Bell, Isamu Noguchi, Mika Rottenberg, Vanessa da Silva, Arturo Herrera and Rafael D’Aló.
The imposing presence of Phyllida Barlow’suntitled: megaphone, 2014 (pictured above), towers six metres high at 22 Bishopsgate, implying the announcement of a performance that has yet to begin. As the artist herself described, an approximation or substitution for the actual object.
Nearby at St Helen’s Churchyard, Isamu Noguchi’s three works, Rain Mountain, Duo and Neo-Lithic, 1982-83 (2019-20) (pictured below) draw inspiration from ancient forms and modern technologies, as well as the artist’s own Japanese and American cultural inheritances.
Pacific Red (IV), 2017 (pictured below) epitomises Larry Bell’s lyrical experimentation with glass and colour. Responding to the dynamic urban environment, the shades of red, combined with the reflective quality of the glass, allow this sculpture to shift and morph according to the natural light.
At 120 Fenchurch Street, Mika Rottenberg’s single-channel video installation Untitled Ceiling Projection, 2018 (pictured below), captures vibrantly coloured lightbulbs being smashed over a clear table. The piece’s location hung above the viewer’s head alludes to the idea of smashing the proverbial glass ceiling, in a hypnotic kaleidoscope of colour.
Arturo Herrera’s Untitled, 2022 (pictured below), energises The Leadenhall Building’s escalators with kinetic, vibrant brushstrokes, reflecting the dynamism of the constant flow of people through the space. The colourful designs, reminiscent of modernist painting and pop culture, animate the area and mimic the dynamic activity of the City Cluster.
The second of Herrera’s works, Untitled, 2020 (pictured below) is in directcontrast with the sobriety of its granite surroundings at 33 Creechurch Lane – and the first time this site has been used to display artworks. The building’s façade is brought to life with this collage of fragmented shapes, colour fields and dripping paint to create a multifaceted stage curtain on the flat surface of the building.
Simeon Barclay’s work Pittu Pithu Pitoo, 2022 (pictured below), considers the complexity of negotiating barriers, whether structural or psychological. Located in Undershaft, this large-scale sculpture, made of fibreglass and a garden ornament, literalises the state of being on the periphery or on the ‘other side’ – both as a source of agitation, and a means of perceiving the world.
Vanessa da Silva’s playful sculptures Muamba Grove, 0 Hue #1 and Muamba Grove, 0 Hue #2, 2019 (pictured below), oscillate between figuration and abstraction, evoking an ongoing state of metamorphosis and transformation. Movement and the body lie at the centre of these pieces, with ambiguous forms seemingly growing out of the ground in their location at St Botolph without Bishopsgate Churchyard.
Inspired to create a public reminder of the oppression exerted on minorities and indigenous peoples, recent Goldsmiths graduate Rafael D’Aló’s two-part metal sculpture titled The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, 2020 (pictured below), borrows its name from a 1970s Gill Scott Heron song and the Black Panthers slogan. On view at 70 St Mary Axe, the profiles of two abstracted figures are depicted facing one another, frozen in a perpetual stand-off.
Sculpture in the City, placed amid some of the most striking skyscrapers of the City Cluster, combines the work of high-profile names on the international stage with emerging artists. The 12th Edition, selected from 447 submissions, features 18 artworks by 17 artists from ten different countries – all chosen for their ability to engage with and respond to their dramatic architectural settings. This celebrated exhibition of public art allows visitors to experience international contemporary art in the public realm, while discovering new and familiar locations at the heart of this continually changing urban landscape.
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