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Antony Gormley
Living Time

28 April—10 December 2023
TAG Art Museum, Qingdao, China

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TAG Art Museum will unveil Living Time, the most comprehensive presentation of Antony Gormley’s work in Asia to date. The exhibition spans nearly 40 years of the artist’s exploration of the body as a site of transformation and exchange.

As one of the most celebrated artists of our time, Antony Gormley is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations and public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. His work confronts fundamental questions of where human beings stand in relation to nature and the cosmos. Gormley continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise. Gormley’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the UK and internationally, and he has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Turner Prize in 1994.

Living Time activates two of TAG Art Museum’s contrasting spaces, Hall 4 and Hall 5. Proposing that an investigation of the ‘body as space’ can be more useful than a representation of its surface, the works on display range from Gormley’s seminal early lead works through massive ‘Expansion Works’ to the artist’s most recent attempts to treat the human body as architecture. In Hall 4 and responding to the space’s enclosed nature, 35 sculptures are displayed in a grid formation. This marks the first occasion that Gormley has shown his work without reference to chronology, allowing visitors to form their own connections between the works.

The exhibition culminates in Hall 5 with four ‘Expansion Works’ that came out of an obsession with renegotiating the boundary of the skin and are what Gormley has called ‘contained explosions’ that expand the skin’s surface by pushing outwards. Hall 5’s mezzanine level will allow visitors to look down on these sculptures – a unique opportunity and the first of its kind for these particular works.

Speaking on the exhibition and its urgent message, Gormley has said: ‘This show reflects on the way that we have become increasingly contextualised by the built environment. The old saying that we make a world but then the world makes us has never been truer. I’m trying to reconcile the cyber world with the biological world and this show is a materialisation of the tension between them.’

Living Time comes nearly 30 years after Gormley’s first trip to China. In 1995, the artist came to the region to conduct research for Asian Field (2003), his large-scale installation made in collaboration with the Chinese people. This trip took Gormley from Xi’an to the Forbidden City to Nanjing to Yangshuo County and then to brick factories in Zibo, Shandong Province. Speaking on its lasting impact on his life and work, Gormley has said: ‘I realised that China has a relationship with the pixel dating back 2000 years in treating the brick as a regular geometric unit that nevertheless relates to the embodied world. Going around China and seeing brick factories and the grey bricks of Nanjing’s city wall, for example, allowed me to see an extraordinary culture that is to do with formalising a relationship with earth…'

Accompanying the exhibition will be a richly illustrated catalogue. The book will feature extensive installation photography, as well as essays by Fan Di'an and Yang Beichen. A conversation between Antony Gormley and Hans Ulrich Obrist will situate the exhibition within Gormley's wider practice and his long history of engagement with China.