Born 1977, London. Lives and works in London.
Imbued with an appearance of scientific rationality, Conrad Shawcross’s sculptures explore subjects that lie on the borders of geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics. Attracted by failed quests for knowledge in the past, he often appropriates redundant theories and methodologies to create ambitious structural and mechanical montages, using a wide variety of materials and media, and often working on an epic scale. Different technologies and natural forces inspire his forms, but his mysterious machines and structures remain enigmatic, filled with paradox and wonder. Some have an absurdist melancholy feel, while others tend to the sublime.
Shawcross has also experimented with ideal geometries and topologies; these constructions are conceived as systems, sometimes modular, sometimes mechanical, which could be theoretically extended infinitely into space. In these and other sculptures, Shawcross pays tribute to some of the great pioneers and analysts, and considers specific moments or figures from the past. Paradigm (Ode to the Difference Engine), 2006 references the life of Charles Babbage; Space Trumpet, 2007 is informed by the history of early acoustic mapping; Slow Arc Inside a Cube, 2008 takes its inspiration from the scientist Dorothy Hodgkin’s discovery of the structure of pig insulin; and most recently, ADA, 2013 is named after Ada Lovelace, credited by many as the world’s first computer programmer.
Recently, Shawcross has developed the scale of his practice, taking on architectural spaces with work that combines epic scope and poetic grace. Timepiece, 2013 was a major new commission for the Roundhouse in which Shawcross transformed the iconic main space of this historic London building into a vast timekeeping device. With this work, the artist seeks to turn the familiar clock – with its circular ‘face’ and three ‘hands’ - back into the cosmological, primeval experience it once was.
Shawcross has had recent solo presentations at Careyes Foundation, Mexico (2014); The Vinyl Factory, London (2014); Berwaldhallen, Stockholm (2014); ARTMIA, Beijing (2014); the Roundhouse, London (2013); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); National Gallery, London (2012); MUDAM Luxembourg (2012); Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2011); The Science Museum, London (2011); 590 Madison Avenue, Pace Gallery, New York, (2010); Cabinet, Brooklyn (2009); Location One, New York, (2009); Jenaer Kunstverein, Germany (2008); and The New Art Gallery, Walsall and The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2005).
His work has also been exhibited internationally at institutions including ArtScience Museum, Singapore (2014); IMMA, Dublin (2014); Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand (2014); MONA, Tasmania (2014 and 2011); the Hayward Gallery, London (2013); Tate Britain, London (2012); Musée d’art Contemporain, Lyon (2008); La Chapelle de L’École National Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris (2008); The Saatchi Gallery, London (2004); and Manifesta 5, San Sebastian, Spain (2004). Shawcross’s first public realm commission, Space Trumpet, was installed in the atrium of the refurbished Unilever Building, London in 2007 and won the Art & Work 2008 Award for a Work of Art Commissioned for a Specific Site in a Working Environment. In 2009 he was awarded the Illy prize for best solo presentation at Art Brussels. He was an artist in Residence at the Science Museum, London (2009-2011). In 2012 Shawcross, along with Chris Ofili and Mark Wallinger, was invited to create works inspired by Titian’s masterpieces for the project Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, an ambitious collaboration with the National Gallery and Royal Ballet for the Cultural Olympiad. In 2017, Shawcross gave the annual arts, society and medicine lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine.
Born: 1977 in London, England, United Kingdom
Elected RA: 30 May 2013
Preferred media: Sculpture