The upcoming exhibition Come Together at Dadiani Fine Art will be Daniel Chadwick’s first solo exhibition in London in a decade. It is comprised of more than ten sculptural works fabricated in various media, including bronze, gold, silver, glass and wood.
Chadwick has long been preoccupied with the evocation of nature, and the assembled works are largely inspired by the undulating countryside of his native Gloucestershire. To create these and the other works Chadwick has harnessed his engineering background, and interest in computer technology to explore new ways of representing the natural world.
I had the chance to talk to Daniel about both his artistic practice and forthcoming exhibition.
Initially you studied engineering, before working with the architect Zaha Hadid as a draftsman and model maker – how does your background in these disciplines affect your own artistic practise?
Yes I did study engineering, I wasn’t very good at it, but it did teach me a few things. Of course people like Leonardo da Vinci knew about engineering and art; it’s very handy to know about engineering, it’s wonderful and so useful for an artist. In this exhibition I’m looking at nature, looking at hills; but at the same time using a lot of technical processes to produce / reproduce the landscape, so that’s where engineering comes in.
To what extent did your father Lynn Chadwick, one of Britain’s most renowned sculptors, encourage / influence your interest in art and design?
My father started by making mobiles, they weren’t intended as art (although they were), originally they were just exhibition displays for the big festivals of Britain in the fifties. He made mobiles then he started to make sculptures – I don’t know if I would have hung my shapes up if I hadn’t of seen my father’s mobiles. Perhaps I was destined to create, but the thing is we were definitely discouraged to think that we could just do what he had done. He felt very lucky, because of the timing (just after the war) they weren’t many people out there in the art world, and there was only one show, the Venice biennale, only one prize in the whole world! He catapulted to fame quite suddenly and in his forties so not that young.
In relation to your work Damien Hirst said: ‘People have been moved by every kind of art. Daniel Chadwick’s art moves the viewer as they move themselves, as the sun makes everything move.’ – how important is movement in your work both emotional and particularly the physical act?
I left the engineering and worked with Zaha Hadid. That in some ways was where I first saw landscape, they made landscape models before putting buildings over them, I was loving the shapes of these landscape models and thought I’m going to make my own sculptures now. I cut out these shapes in Perspex, put them on the wall but they looked very dead, put them on a plinth and they still looked very dead, and then I hung them in the air and they were very alive suddenly. By putting something in space, suddenly those shapes did what I wanted them to do. So I made mobiles and got stuck making mobiles for twenty years! Then you get into the movement because people expect them to move. Anything that moves, kind of wears and needs constant maintenance, so I thought I want to make something that doesn’t move and that’s the landscape in a way. However actually they do move, they are un-photographable, very hard to capture, and they do a lot of optical clashing which is quite amazing!
Your upcoming exhibition ‘Come Together’ features a variety of sculptural works fabricated in various media, including bronze, gold, silver, glass and wood – what entices you to utilize these different materials?
It’s a visual thing; I’ve made something out of solid gold, but its not about monetary value, rather the gold strikes you because its soft, rich, and very dense. The acrylic is so beautiful looking, visually its optically beautiful, like looking through an incredibly distorted lens, something that the gold couldn’t do, in that, the acrylic experience is even better than the gold, yet less valuable, although exactly the same amount of work goes into it. The plaster is soft and dead, its matt surface eats light, beautiful, completely valueless but the work in that is perhaps more than all of the other ones put together. Then the painted wood with thirty or forty coats of paint onto it; the love in it, you start with a machine surface by the time you’ve rubbed it with your hands, rub it rub it and rub, and it just comes into being – hence the title ‘Coming Alive’ – and the exhibition title ‘Coming together’ – they are not meant to be rude, but then you can’t help it, we are rubbing these things and they do get sexy.
The exhibition seems to continue your on-going interest in the evocation of nature, particularly of the undulating countryside of your native Gloucestershire – how important is the natural world to your artistic practice?
The natural world is very important; driving up to London there is a series of hills, the Marlborough downs, voluptuous and beautiful. I started trying to reproduce these shapes 20 years ago and I still am today!
Have you got any future projects / plans lined up?
Well I just came off the phone to Damien Hirst who wants to give me a serious / proper show in his Newport gallery. I’ve got loads going on now in London and I’m even doing some science things – one at the moment to do with Einstein’s birthday.
– Harry Dougall
Daniel Chadwick Come Together opens at Dadiani Fine Art on 9 October and will be on view until 12 November; 30 Cork St, London, W1S 3NG; Monday – Friday: 11-6 Saturday: 11-3; Admission: FREE