Robert Koenig: Signs of Good Fortune Covered in Dust.
4th January to 9th February 2018
Viewing 9am to 4pm. Saturday viewing 9am to 12.
Open evening 8th January 7-9pm
Signs, symbols, colours, patterns and shapes painted on rough sawn planks, developed over 40 years of work as a sculptor. “A ceaseless flood of visual experiences follows us throughout our lives. Memory is at the heart of human experience. These panels represent some of my visual memories”.
This is the first full showing of a recent series of works that emerged during the creation of the “Memorial Structure”, a large temple like installation made from thin rough sawn planks. The framework of these panels reflects the construction of the “Memorial Structure”.
The imagery in the panels is full of signs, symbols, colours, patterns and shapes, which Robert Koenig developed over 40 years of work as a sculptor. Koenig’s use of colour on wood goes back to his days as a student on the postgraduate sculpture course at the Slade School of Art in London in the 1970’s. He was talked about as the “best painter in the sculpture department” by the professors at the school. His originality and personal vision was noted by the art press following his postgraduate degree show. He continued with this use of colour on wood throughout his sculptural career, which he used on numerous public and private commissions.
The imaginative and inventive use of materials in this series include bog oak sawdust, gold leaf, silver leaf, copper leaf, acrylic paint and charred wood. The bog oak sawdust came from an oak tree that grew over 3000 years ago in the Lincolnshire Fenlands. It fell and was submerged in water for thousands of years. Oak survives well in water and turns black with age. Robert uses bog oak to create some of his sculptures. The bog oak sawdust is produced during the carving process. Its presence on some of the panels is significant. It is the memory of an ancient tree, a visible presence of a witness to the past.
Memorial Structure is a major installation created by the sculptor Robert Koenig in 2015, commissioned by the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe with financial support from Arts Council England.
It takes the form of a temple-like structure clad with plain, rough sawn planks. The dimensions are 7.5m x 5m and 3m high. The outside walls are painted white while the interior is covered with artwork of differing techniques and themes developed over 40 years, including wood relief, sculptural carvings, constructions and photographic collage.
The installation creates a space for contemplation, recollection, reminiscence and memory. The imagery tackles contemporary and universal themes of migration, loss, discrimination, displacement, fear and collective responsibility. It is also a celebration of memory. Robert’s work is influenced by his Polish family history and the country’s strong tradition of working with wood.
Robert Koenig was born in Manchester, UK. He was a contemporary of Anthony Gormley at the Slade School of Art in London in 1978 where he gained his MA in sculpture. He has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally including the Serpentine Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, South London Gallery and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. He has work in public and private collections both in the UK and abroad.
For the past 20 years Robert has been touring his monumental woodcarving project “Odyssey”. It consists of 45 carved wood male and female figures, each 2.5m. tall. They have been exhibited in Poland, the Ukraine and the UK. Since 2013 they have been touring Germany. The latest venue was the town of Speyer where from May – August 2017 they formed part of the 500th anniversary celebrations of the Reformation.
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