A Summer of Sculpture

Towering monoliths. Surreal forms. Organic materials. Contemporary sculpture encompasses a diverse array of artistic approaches. It’s impossible to put into a box because the genre is instead multi-faceted and ever-evolving. Today, creatives play with negative and positive space to achieve different effects. Step into the Rijksmuseum Gardens to encounter Lee Ufan’s stone and metal structures in a space designed for calm and contemplation. Elsewhere in Geneva, experience the surreal street signs of Elmgreen & Dragset and reflect on humanity’s complex relationship with the nature. These are five sculpture shows to explore.

Elmgreen & Dragset: Landscapes | Pace Gallery, Geneva | Until 10 August

“A desert can be so desolate that nobody knows it exists.” The late Danish poet Inger Christensen sets the tone for Elmgreen & Dragset’s first-ever exhibition at Pace Gallery, Geneva. Printed on the gallery’s rear wall, the sentence hovers in the sky above the vast, sandy expanse. The idea that the landscape is more emotional than physical resonates with the show that is all about exploring our place in nature. It’s a must-see exhibition filled with the duo’s signature surreal and thought-provoking installations and sculptures.

Lee Ufan | Rijksmuseum Gardens, Amsterdam | Until 27 October

Lee Ufan joins the list of 10 remarkable artists who have graced the public gardens of the Rijksmuseum, such as Henry Moore, Louise Bourgeois and Barbara Hepworth. The Korean poet, philosopher and artist presents us with a series of minimalist stone and metal sculptures from his Relatum series. It’s a project he has been working on since the 1970s. Today, visitors can see each piece in visual dialogue with the architecture and nature of this iconic Dutch museum – a great way to mark Ufan’s Dutch solo debut.

Kensington + Chelsea Art Week Public Art Trail | London | Until August 2024

The annual Public Art Trail is a highlight event in London’s cultural calendar. Now in its seventh year, it’s an adventure that takes art lovers on a tour of world-class sculpture, installations and murals across some of the most iconic sites in the city. This year’s theme is Changing Landscapes and there are 25 projects on display, including Amy Jackson’s moss-encased geometric shapes; Julian Wild’s brightly coloured, self-supporting forms; and Matthias Neumann’s Xabana/2 – which is made entirely of recycled materials.

Nika Neelova: Beghost | NIKA Project Space, Dubai | Until 5 October

Glass. Clay. Fossilized shark teeth. Nika Neelova’s Beghost delves into the geological history of the Sharjah Region and imagines the ancient marine life that once inhabited the Buhais Geology Park and Jebel Buhais. The project developed from a research trip the London-based artist took to the UAE in 2022. She says: “Among the layers of sedimented time and these prehistoric rocks, the show conjures the oceanic subconscious of the desert, of the sand dunes haunted by the memory of water and ancient ancestors.”

Tony Cragg | Castle Howard, York | Until 22 September

Dynamic forms bend, extend and twist towards the sky. These monolithic structures are overseen by another impressive feat of human construction, the historic Castle Howard. Sir Tony Cragg is the internationally renowned visual artist behind the stately home’s first every contemporary sculpture exhibition. The beautiful gardens, lush landscapes and iconic architecture serve as the backdrop for several large-scale – some reaching up to six metres tall – pieces constructed from bronze, glass, wood and steel.

Words: Diana Bestwish Tetteh

Image Credits:

  1. Amy Jackson, Living London 2
  2. Elmgreen & Dragset Camouflaged, Fig. 2, 2024 mirror-polished stainless steel, lacquer 240cm×44cm×44.9cm No. 91611. © Elmgreen & Dragset.
  3. Elmgreen & Dragset Camouflaged, Fig. 4, 2024 mirror-polished stainless steel, lacquer 240cm×44cm×44.9cm No. 91613. © Elmgreen & Dragset.
  4. Lee Ufan. Photo: Rijksmuseum/Albertine Dijkema
  5. STRIP – TOWER (2023) by Gerhard Richter © 2024, Gerhard Richter, Prudence Cuming Associates.
  6. Matthais Neumann, Xabana.
  7. Nika Neelova Beghost. Exhibition view. 2024. Courtesy Nika Project Space.
  8. Points of View, Stainless Steel, 2018. Tony Cragg at Castle Howard. Photo by Michael Richter.
  9. Senders, Fibreglass, 2018. Tony Cragg at Castle Howard. Photo by Michael Richter.