Looking for a must-see contemporary art exhibition?
See Cosmic Hunt, a free exhibition of new work by Matthew Barney, at Sadie Coles HQ in Mayfair.
Matthew Barney (b. 1967) is one of America’s most significant contemporary artists. Over the past two decades, he has evolved a practice that encompasses filmmaking, performance, drawing, painting, and sculpture.
Running until 16th
January 2021, the Cosmic Hunt exhibition centres on a monumental sculpture in cast stainless steel, called Cosmic Hunt, alongside twenty drawings rendered in finely scribed detail. The sculpture and drawings find their origins in the artist’s acclaimed 2018 film Redoubt, in which ancient and modern myths of creation and retribution are transposed into the spectacular wilderness of the remote Sawtooth mountain region of Idaho.
At the centre of the exhibition, the Cosmic Hunt sculpture embodies the morphed skeleton of a burned tree, taking the form of a telescope or mounted artillery, and rendered on a monumental scale in intricately articulated stainless steel. Elevated on a bipod, its central ‘barrel’ resembles an amalgam of fractured bark, machined metal and scaly sheathing.
At its pinnacle lies an eviscerated wolf, rendered in crystalline detail from a scanned model of the wolf’s body, notably, Barney’s first directly figurative sculpture. The wolf alludes to the leitmotif of Redoubt: a wolf hunt that unfolds in six choreographed movements over the course of the film.
Barney’s sculpture dramatises the central themes of Redoubt – the dual enmity and interdependence of men and animals, the collision of nature and technology, and the porous boundary between present-day reality and myth. Barney has spoken of the film’s depiction of the landscape as “grounded in the real.”
Poised on sleek tubular legs, the entire sculptural structure suggests a character in the throes of a metamorphosis – mechanical, animate, fossilised. The object appears to be turning inside-out, in an echo of Barney’s earlier sculpture Basin Creek Burn, where the core and exterior of a tree harvested from the Sawtooth Mountains were cast in one process, with the tree itself acting as a mould for the molten metal.
In a sequence of drawings in gouache and graphite (all 2020), Barney focuses on characters and settings from Redoubt, while invoking the film’s larger cosmological symbolism. The different hues of the paper – magenta, ochre, blue and orange (each matched in the drawings’ frames) – evoke the skies, forest fires and colour spectrums of the Idaho mountains.
Cosmic Hunt forms the most recent chapter extending from Matthew Barney’s significant Redoubt project, first presented at the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, in 2019 (accompanied by an extensive publication), and subsequently travelling to UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing in 2019 – marking the artist’s first solo exhibition in China. In 2021, Redoubt will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London.
Learn more about the exhibition online. Or, call or email the gallery using the following details:
T: +44 (0)20 7493 8611