For Glasgow International 2021, The Modern Institute presents a new exhibition by Eva Rothschild at its Aird's Lane gallery, which extends the artist's interest in reinvigorating conventional sculpture. While actively engaging with the traditional materiality of sculpture, her work pays close attention to the active relationship between the viewer and the artwork. Employing multiple formats and diverse materials, and drawing on influences from minimal art of the 60's and 70's, transcendent materiality and classical architecture, Rothschild encourages visitors to experience both a physical and an aesthetic response, as they navigate their own corporeality in proximity to the work—the composition of the exhibition and the architecture—with an aim to create multiple spaces for contemplation, conversation and engagement.
The outdoor work Hazard (2018) is a cast concrete wall painted with a diagonal perspective pattern, green on one side and black on the other, visually disrupting its material presence. While operating clearly as a sculpture, the piece has echoes of the 'temporary' coercive and protective blocks that have become commonplace in our urban settings. Her interest in heightening our self-awareness in relation to the sculptural environment is likewise reflected in Technical Support (2021), the first work in the main space. Its spindly form of stacked multi-coloured cast tapes reach the ceiling proudly, as if pretending to actually fulfil a structural function.
Throughout the exhibition, sculptures are presented on concrete plinths: Eye of the Rainbow (pale) (2021), The World Wide Web (2021), and Tranquillity Now (black) (2020), call to mind influences of traditional modernist sculpture - in particular, repeating the trope of the open sculpture in which the viewer is prescribed with the choice of viewing the world through the work, or looking at the sculpture alone.
Stigmata (2020) intertwines the body and the object: a geometric form in all its objective perfection pierces this miraculously emergent form, unified through the application of an unnaturally deep black—creating a co-dependency and completeness in the totality of the sculpture while juxtaposing the organic with the constructed. Black is used throughout Rothschild's practice to create clear sculptural silhouettes to enhance the edges and limits of the works. However, the hidden materiality of the sculpture is only revealed in the glimpses of golden bronze inside the rising column. Likewise, the seemingly monochrome wall-based works of wax-resist dyed-calico, all possess subtleties which are revealed upon closer inspection—multi-coloured layers surface and recede, giving way to abstracted vistas of columns and arches.
By deliberately destabilising physical and visual characteristics in her work, Rothschild not only questions the aesthetics of art, in particular minimalism, but engages the viewer in an active relationship with the sculpture. Daybed 01 (BMS) (2019) and Daybed 02 (BMS) (2019) and Rothschild's cast stools allow us moments of rest in the space; they signal that we are welcome and give us access to the materiality of the works, making us part of the mise-en-scène created in every exhibition.
Screening in the Bricks Space is Boys and Sculpture (2012), which captures the interaction between a group of young boys in a gallery with Rothschild's works: cautious observation soon gives way to an unsatiated curiosity that ultimately descends into joyful chaos and play—reaffirming that our presence is in constant dialogue with the conversation that Rothschild's practice instigates, further emphasising the body's key role in the act of making and experiencing artworks.
Eva Rothschild (b. 1971, Dublin, Ireland) lives and works in London, UK. Rothschildrepresented Ireland in the 58th International Art Exhibition—La Biennale di Venezia (2019) and has undertaken large-scale commissions for Tate Britain's Duveen Galleries (2009) and Public Art Fund, New York (2011).
Her work has been the subject of exhibitions worldwide, selected solo exhibitions include: The Shrinking Universe, VISUAL, Carlow (2020); Furniture and Ceramics, Blue Projects, Blue Mountain School, London (2019); The Shrinking Universe, Irish Pavilion, Biennale Arte, Venice, Italy (2019); Kosmos, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia and touring to City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (2018–2019); Alternative to Power, The New Art Gallery Walsall, UK (2016); Hugh Lane Museum, Dublin, Ireland (2014); What the Eye Wants, Modern Art, London, UK (2014); Narcissus, Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, Switzerland (2013); Sightings, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, USA (2012); Childrens Art Commission: Eva Rothschild: Boys and Sculpture, Whitechapel, London, UK (2012); The Modern Institute, Osborne Street, Glasgow, UK (2012); Hot Touch, The Hepworth Wakefield, UK and touring to Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover, Germany (2011–2012); Empire, Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park, New York, USA (Public Art Fund commission, 2011); Duveen Commission 2009, Tate Britain, London, UK (2009); South London Gallery, London, UK (2007); and Kunsthalle Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland (2004).
Selected group exhibitions include: Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945, Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition, Longside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2021); Play Well, Wellcome Collection, London (2019); Pairings: Sculpture in the Nasher & Rachofsky Collections, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2019); Objects of Wonder; British Sculpture from the Tate Collection 1950s – Present, PalaisPopulaire, Berlin, Germany (2019); 60 Years, curated by Sofia Karamani, Tate Britain, London, UK (2019); You Imagine What You Desire, 19th Sydney Biennale, Sydney, Australia (2014); Undone: Making and Unmaking in Contemporary Sculpture, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK (2010); Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century, New Museum, New York, USA (2007); Half Square, Half Crazy, Villa Arson, Nice, France (2007); Tate Triennial: New British Art, Tate Britain, London, UK (2006); British Art Show 6, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead and touring to Cornerhouse, Manchester, New Art Exchange, Nottingham, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol, UK (2005); and 54th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA (2004).
Press release courtesy The Modern Institute.