VAII Global Connect｜CAFA Visual Art Innovation Institute Expert interview Series
CAFA Visual Art Innovation Institute Expert Richard Deacon
Please talk about your work updates and achievements since the covid-19pandemic. Is there any change in your life and work, and what is it?
Richard Deacon ：All of the exhibitions I had planned for the period March 2020 -March 2021 were either postponed or cancelled. I left my studio in London to stay outside of the capital, only returning on occasional days to maintain the building and use some facilities. One large project for the United States had been started in early 2020, materials had been stockpiled. This project remained on course with regular actual and virtual meetings to guide progress. In The Air was shipped and installed in April 2021. Sadly, neither I nor the fabricators who had worked hard on the sculpture were permitted to travel to the US for the installation. Not being able to be in my studio, I established a makeshift workspace where I could draw and make models. The models turned into small sculptures and I have been happy with those. I have also been pleased to be drawing. Distancing has created an opportunity for an interesting body of work in lithography. I was asked at the beginning of last summer for two prints for a print club?- members subscribe and have the opportunity to receive original prints, it’s a nice concept. Travel restrictions meant that I could not go to the lithography studio in Cologne but I did know that it was possible to transfer drawings, with the right paper, onto stone. I began drawing on transfer paper and sent these to the lithography studio. What I like about the process is that it is the drawing itself that is transferred, not a copy, the transfer paper is purely intermediary. I enjoyed it and have a good rapport with the lithographer. What started as a request for two prints has turned into producing twenty! At some point I’ll find a way to show them. The idea of a transfer has been echoed in the way that I have been drawing. I have drawn in ink on paper that I have then soaked and dried off by pressing absorbent paper onto the sheet, some of the drawing transferring itself in a muffled way from one sheet to the other. This is like a conversation between two different papers. Lastly, I have also been using my mobile phone as a stop motion camera to make short films. At first this was to entertain my grandchildren, but I have enjoyed it and, at some point, something else will come out.
In The Air 2021
Stainless steel，940 x 470 x 450 Trial assembly, November 2020
Tread #1 2020
More Light 2020
Lithograph with metallic ink.，120 x 80
Lithograph，120 x 80
Lithograph，120 x 80
On Second Reflection #2 2020
Ink on blotting paper，43 x 61
Ink on paper，21.7 x 36
What are the changes in the area of visual art and design that have come into your awareness?
Richard Deacon ：Clearly, the closure of museums and galleries, the abandoning of art fairs, the lack of contact have all been things that I think have impacted on the way that artists live and work. Some of these are changes in the economic model, some are reflections of the larger societal changes which are a consequence of the pandemic. These are not trivial. I think there has been an increased interest in the social dimensions of the practice and also perhaps of a need for localisation. Whilst there has been a lot of activity in virtual space, it remains true that the experience of real things is different and important.
Please talk about your artistic creation and relevant work during the pandemic?
Richard Deacon ：I have been reintroduced to working in quite simple ways, I don’t really have a space where I can make noise, create dust or use smelly chemicals. This, as I said above, has been okay and I have found things to do-artists are quite good at doing things that they find interesting. Obviously, as a sculptor, I have a powerful interest in materials and it is a bit frustrating to be constrained but a good lesson is to not be upset by what you cannot do and rather to be liberated by what you can do. I’ve made a lot of drawings, I think I should be starting to join them together to make something bigger. With a gallery in Germany I have connected to a fabricator that has been interested to work with me and we have made a large piece of sculpture in four connected sections that I have only ever seen onscreen and through CAD files. It’s not what I want to do forever, but it is engaging.
Fourfold Way 2021
Fourfold Way 2021
Stainless steel，170 x 450 x 360
What do you think of the future trend of visual art and design??
Richard Deacon ：The pandemic shutdown followed on from a year when the climate emergency moved steadily further into general consciousness. The sustainability of the model of art practice was being strongly questioned, whether that was to do with air travel for individuals or methods and means of production of the artworks themselves. The environmental audit that the pandemic has brought into focus has been long overdue, but the answers are neither simple nor straightforward. I remain convinced that the experience of the artwork is, fundamentally, the experience of a real object. This is not to derogate or devalue mediated or screen experience but to say real experience in a real space is meaningful. The world has changed fundamentally and I would be sad if this meaningful experience was somehow lost. But I would be equally sad if we failed to recognise that the world had changed and only tried to return to what we might think of as ‘normal’. I think this would be catastrophic. Because sculpture can be out in the world there are probably some increased opportunities in that there is some expansion to the way in which work is viewed and to the kinds of work being made.
Can you talk about your following artwork plans?
Flat 61 & 62
Exhibition 'On The Surface'?Schloss Rheinsberg, Germany 20 June - 28 August 2021
Bill Woodrow and Richard Deacon
Installation for Ikon Gallery, Birmingham 2021
Interview Curator/CHANG Zhigang
Chief Editor/DONG Huiping
Interview Assistant/Wang Yongmeng, FAN Gongqing, Zheng Yawen
English translation/DONG Jing
Visual Design/ WEI Xiangmin
Image/CAFA VAII Richard Deacon