Apologies for the long, protracted absence. I escaped to Spain and enjoyed cold river swimming, hot sun and the beautiful Moorish Andalusia.
Before I went away I interviewed sculptor Dexter Dymoke about his current show at Nettie Horn, the delicately named, A Rain of Stars. The humorous and often subversive collision of materials and found objects in Dymoke’s sculptures particularly captured me. Dymoke was very definitely a materialist and it was clear that he had been drawn to sculpture because of his primitive love of things and objects.
Towards the end of my interview with Dexter Dymoke, at his exhibition A Rain of Stars, he points out his latest piece, ‘Oeuvre’. ‘Ouevre’ is a new kind of work for Dymoke; he drew a picture, scanned it, and sent if off to be made by somebody else. Considering Dymoke came to sculpture from “making” as a carpenter and joiner, this black silhouette of an abstract steel cat strikes us as a complete departure. “It’s great,” Dymoke smiles with the lightness of freedom, “I understand what Donald Judd was all about. I could just keep getting it made in a factory. I could get rid of my studio.”
I sense that Dymoke has too powerful a love of materials, of found objects and scavenged textures, for him to be entirely serious about giving up his studio. Whether it is the “rorschach-like table top” of Marinade or the “collection of art objects” atavistically arranged in Searcher’s Season, objects and materials are afforded a deeper, richer status in the hands of Dexter Dymoke. Just as Henry Moore could never give up his flints or his maquette studio, Dymoke’s years of collected materials represent a hoard of too great a value to be abandoned. “I don’t start from a political position or as a cultural commentator, I start from a material position. I work from the idea of trying to find energy and power within material objects and things.”
Although Dymoke believes that “sculpture has a kind of honesty about what it is,” he also admits that he deliberately tries to “take materials out of their functions to make them seem different to what they really are.” During the interview a wooden limb, Rollo, lies at our feet. It looks like a familiar organic form, stretching out like a piece of found driftwood, but this is a manufactured form created from layers of plywood. Crowned by a ring of red industrial hardware the sculpture gets stranger, “It is a sculpture becoming something else.” This “discordant note” is a playful respite, a humour which Dymoke employs partly for the sake of his own sanity when working alone in the studio, and partly for the benefit of his viewers.
Dymoke may make unnatural subversions with discordant materials, but he relies upon a natural balance and equilibrium in these compositional sculptures. The break of the fabric in Dymoke’s twist on minimalist neons, Flume, is balanced with a harmonious exactness; dragging the light downwards with the weightlessness of water in order to capture its audience in quiet reverence.
Up close Flume’s fabric waterfall looks surprisingly cheap and thin, but it is transformed with the luxury of its illuminated fall. For Dymoke sculpture is empowered by an “energy which is more than a sum of the parts.” Basic materials are unexpectedly brought together by the artist and in this process of composition are “afforded some kind of status within the artwork.” Dymoke has returned to this fabric four or five times in an attempt to exploit the quality of its fall, endowing it with an aesthetic power which reaches beyond its practical function.
“I’m trying to really push the envelope of what sculpture is actually doing. I want to get under the radar with a bit of emotion; people recognise this as sculpture but I hope that it also might linger in their minds and strike an emotional chord.” It is this desire to affect an emotional reaction which leads Dymoke to find a place for his found materials in his sculptures. They might have a personal resonance for him but they also have the energy to appeal to his audience on an individual level. Found objects have an “infinite register,” while “their origins are unknown and their path to the art work is unknown” it is possible for narratives and connections to be uncovered by each and every viewer.
When faced with an exhibition of heavy metals, (bronze, copper, aluminium and steel) and of woods, hardware, brackets and other scraps picked up off the street, the light poetry of A Rain of Stars might seem like too delicate and ethereal a title. “A piece of work can raise questions which remain unanswered,” says Dymoke, “I would like my own work to approach this kind of status.” In these sculptures the materials are composed and arranged in such a way that they suggest an openness, and with this lightness of being the work does not impress upon us one vision but invites us to make our own reflection.
A Rain of Stars will be at Nettie Horn until the 12th August
Dexter Dymoke is also one of six artists shortlisted for the WW Gallery SOLO Award and you can see his work at GROUP 2012 until 25 August.