It’s a pillar-box red and soft grey space, which over the last few weeks has been home to colourful canvases from the Aboriginal artist Jimmy Pike. Now the flowing lines and frenetic dots have been replaced by something entirely different. For our Year of the Horse exhibition, the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery on Conway Street, Fitzrovia has been turned into a stable of artists, paying homage to all things equine in conjunction with Chinese New Year. The exhibition explores the horse through a diverse portfolio of media. Towering over my desk for the next month as I intern is one particular example of that diversity which is not to be missed: Robert Bradford’s life-sized sculpture made entirely from soft toys, complete with gemstone eyes and leopard print hoofs fixed mid-frolic.
Bradford is an artist who pays scrupulous attention to form, but loosens the limits of that form. He challenges its building blocks, manipulating how it comes into shape. As he has said himself, the materials with which he brings together each piece take on the value of miniature sculptures in their own right. Just as with his dogs, crafted from plastic ‘My Little Ponies’ in candy shop shades, his horse cleverly plays with our perception. Majestically large from afar and intricate up close, the scale of his work is as small as it is grand, the horse’s body a composite of tie-dye beanie babies and plush nursery teddies. Bradford is a sculptor without bounds.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in his latest objective, ‘Phoenix Rising’. This ephemeral display of pyrotechnical sculpture is the second fire-driven effort by Bradford to be funded by the Arts Council for England. It sees him craft huge wooden works on the beaches of Kent, which he then sets alight and floats out to the sea come nightfall. It will form part of the Herne Bay Festival, Bradford’s display taking place on the 23rd August. As his sculptures begin to burn, ash will spurt up in sudden animation, its undulation evocative of the saltwater waves each piece is soon to embark upon. Solid and static will become lithe and fluid, as destruction is recast as creation. Through this project, Bradford asserts himself once more as a sculptor who challenges the very foundations of sculpting, interrogating frontiers and shapes in the process of making them real. And this is why his work must not be missed.
Current exhibitions at Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery:
Jimmy Pike: A Desert Cowboy in London- 25 June to 30 August
Year of the Horse- 30 July to 30 August
Yvonne Mills-Stanley: Grass- 6 to 30 August (Private View 7 August 6.30-8.30 pm)