Barry Flanagan, Heap, 1967–1968
Imaginary Solutions / Barry Flanagan
Feb 3 – Mar 10, 2023
Galerie Max Hetzler
Berlin, Germany

Galerie Max Hetzler is pleased to announce Imaginary Solutions, an exhibition showing sculptures, film and works on paper by Barry Flanagan (1941–2009) from five decades of his work.

One of Britain’s most inventive and charismatic sculptors, Barry Flanagan worked across a range of media and styles from the 1960s onwards until his early death in 2009. His practice encompassed not only solid materials, but also elusive forms such as daylight, moonlight and other light sources, as well as sound and its absence, which Flanagan considered to be as intrinsic to sculpture’s character as weight and volume. In his work, any material from industrial sand to cloth, stone, clay and metal could become a sculptural form. He talked about the smell of objects and how they were uniquely attributed. After his Minimalist practice of the 1960s and 1970s, Flanagan’s investigations turned to figuration in 1979, and in later life he became best known for his bronze statues of biomorphic forms alluding to animals, human figures and mythological creatures.

In this exhibition we find examples from Flanagan’s earliest conceptual works, based on serialism, repetition, color and the process driven concerns of Minimalism, through to the collages on paper concerned with an investigation into the nature of material as much as form, the figurative bronzes of the 1980s and ’90s, right until his silver cast Croissant in Silver (Bread Roll) from 2006. The earliest work on display, metal 2 ’64, 1964, is an intelligent and humorous piece, which quotes and questions the attitude to formalism promoted by his teacher Anthony Caro. Where Caro used firm structures and glossy paint, metal 2 ’64 while made from similar salvaged materials, is deliberately unstable and unfinished. Following on chronologically, three works from Flanagan’s 1969 ‘daylight light piece’ series are imbued with a subtle and poetic quality: beams of light are projected onto an empty corner of the exhibition space, a crumpled length of blue canvas, and a piece of cloth pinned to the wall respectively, taking the viewer unawares and exemplifying the artist’s elevation of light as a sculptural material.

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