Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
13 September 2006 to 26 November 2006
This exhibition presented an in-depth survey of works by Australian sculptor James Angus from the mid 1990s to 2006. Born in Perth in 1970, and based in Sydney and New York, Angus explores the physical properties of objects and their manipulation through his art. Iconic architectural forms were inverted or twisted, divided and then realigned in new symmetrical permutations. Ordinary objects – a teapot, a soccer or basket ball – were literally turned inside out, dropped from a great height, or expanded to massive scale. Physical distortions, inversions and impact patterns were carefully mapped out onto their forms, rendering them both dysfunctional and renewed as physical propositions.
In this exhibition, Angus presented key works from the last decade, and a major new work, inspired by a 1920s Type 35 Bugatti racing car. This was the first Australian exhibition to bring together a comprehensive selection of the artist’s works over time.
A strong interest in materials is evident in Angus’s sculptures. Constructed from plaster, bronze, timber and fibreglass, they range from modestly scaled objects to large and even over-sized forms. Angus’ sculptures are seamless in finish and precise in their attention to detail. Often situated directly on the gallery floor, protruding out of or leaning up against the wall, the works in this exhibition were deceptively casual in their placement. Colour was also significant, from the neutrality and timelessness of white to the use of bright colour or contrasting dark and light timbers. Each drew attention to the pure ‘objectness’ of the works – of sculpture as sculpture, not an imitation of life.
Angus’ sculptures range from architectural structures to everyday objects and animal forms. He first began to work with computer-aided design in the late 1990s, creating hypothetical constructions and manipulating space as though it were soft and borderless. Translating these ideas into real, physical form in his sculptures, a slippage was evident between the fanciful and the real – a theme that was expressed for example in the doubling and repetition of objects, their looping and inversion. Thus a miniaturised skyscraper lay horizontal upon the floor as though blown over by gale-force winds; a soccer ball was impacted and flattened as though dropped from a massive height; and a teapot was turned inside out, its handle and spout marked by their absence. In developing his works, Angus consults designers and engineers, mathematicians and scientists, creating works that traverse multiple ideas and disciplines.
Augmenting Angus’ MCA exhibition was the colossal installation of Shangri-La, comprising of an inverted hot air balloon in the foyer of the Sydney Opera House.
Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane: 2 June – 28 July 2007
Bendigo Art Gallery: 22 September – 24 November 2007
Art Gallery of Western Australia: 24 November 2007 – 2 March 2008
Supported by Ginny and Leslie Green