Michael Dean: The Introduction of Muscle
Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol, Avon, BS1 4QA
28 September-17 November 2013
From the Press Release
This autumn, Arnolfini presents an exhibition of new works by Michael Dean. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, in 1977, Dean is one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists in Britain, working with sculpture, photography and drawing. Best known for his works from cast concrete or other industrial materials, Dean’s sculptures and installations seek a direct physical relationship with the human body. With rough but delicate surfaces, sometimes monumental in scale, his works invite touch and relate to the immediate architectural background.
For Arnolfini, the artist has created an installation that constructs a precise atmospheric setting. A sculpture is handed to visitors, who are invited to sit down on a soft, carpeted floor and experience the work, one to one. Another sculpture, like a great rune, is formal and rigid, occupying the space with an almost megalithic solemnity. Dean exploits the versatility of cast concrete in unique and unusual ways, through dying and surface finishes. Concrete remains porous when hard, so its history can be read through the spectrum of patinas that it accumulates though contact with its environment. Dean employs these subtle material characteristics to achieve an almost organic quality, surfaces and structures that create associations to animal skin, ancient plants, or fossils.
Dean’s sculptural works evolve from his extensive writing. Many of his works are remodelled words in the artist’s own three-dimensional fonts, accompanied by short, poetic texts. Exploring the transmutation of language from the word to its graphical representation and its reading, Dean’s work marks the different relationships between ideas and material form. The sculptures keep a careful balance