For Ian Rawlinson’s first solo show in London, a pair of brooding, urban sculptures dominate Chisenhale’s industrial space. Rawlinson's sculptures take the form of cubic chambers, drawing on the traditions of Christian tomb sculpture, memorials and sarcophagi. For Rawlinson this series also captures the essence of visits to chapels in the churches of the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna.
The sculptures are adaptable, modular constructions, whose permanent sense of incompletion is at odds with the functions and meanings of the sepulchre. Whilst Rawlinson’s work is allied to an international minimalist aesthetic, the artist engages with a form of ‘social minimalism’. Rawlinson describes this as a re-inscription of minimalist ideology, which, crucially, operates in relationship to the built environment. By this, Rawlinson destabilises the purity of intent that was the hallmark of Judd, Flavin et al.
The sculptures at Chisenhale are borne out of a process of abandonment, and specifically refer to the recent social history of Britain. The wire mesh that forms a principle visual trigger in Rawlinson’s cubes is in fact reclaimed steel shuttering, once used by civic authorities to encase and immobilise disused property in urban districts across the country. Salvaged strip lighting, rescued from an abandoned Barclay’s Bank, protrudes from the sculptures, serving to illuminate the works themselves.
Ian Rawlinson is an artist based in Manchester and Route Leader of the MA Fine Art at Manchester School of Art. Since the late nineties he has exhibited his work in galleries throughout the UK and abroad, he was also a contributor to the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2004. For over ten years he has also worked with regular collaborator Nick Crowe with whom he curated Artranpennine03, a trans-regional exhibition of public art. More recently his collaborative video work with Crowe was the subject of a major solo exhibition at FACT, Liverpool 2007 which featured four new commissions.