Michael Landy: Saints Alive, The National Gallery, London

Michael Landy’s (b. 1963) kinetic sculptures appear in his new exhibition Saints Alive, opening 23 May at The National Gallery. Inspired by works in the Gallery’s collection, Michael Landy: Saints Alive is the culmination of Landy’s position as the Gallery’s current Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist in residence. Focusing on several saints, Landy’s skill and imagination is demonstrated through his interest in the holy figures as he portrays a colourful portrait of their lives, stories and attributes. Featuring seven large-scale sculptures, the huge figures capture the drama of each saint’s life.

The sculptures are made up of re-imagined fragments of National Gallery paintings cast in fibreglass, painted and assembled with the surprising addition of metal cogs, wheels, defunct fan belts and motors that Landy has accumulated from junkyards, car boot sales and flea markets. Reworking two-dimensional images into three-dimensional ones, the artist engages his visitors through devising a foot pedal mechanism that cranks the work into life.

Particularly attracted to pieces by artists of the early Renaissance displayed in the Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing, including Carlo Crivelli, Saint Jerome (about 1476); Lucas Cranach the Elder and Saints Genevieve and Apollonia (1506), Landy installs a three-metre-diameter fibreglass interactive wheel installation in response to a work by Pintoricchio: Saint Catherine of Alexandria with a Donor (probably about 1480–1500). As with the sculptures, audiences can spin the wheel, the symbol associated with Saint Catherine, to reveal episodes of the saint’s life as they pass among the sculptures.

Michael Landy: Saints Alive, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN, 23 May – 24 November.

Another Michael Landy exhibit opening in June is 20 Years of Pressing Hard: Michael Landy Drawings 1993-2013 at Thomas Dane Gallery, Wednesday 5 June – Saturday 27 July 2013. Thomas Dane Gallery, London SW1Y.

1. Michael Landy-Saints Alive at National Gallery London. 23 May – 24 November. Courtesy of The National Gallery and the artist.