Richard Long is one of Britain’s leading conceptual artists. His work explores interventions in the landscape, tracking and documenting alterations to the terrain made by his footsteps alone or gathered from the materials of the place, left as evidence on site. He ranges across mountains, valleys, shorelines, deserts, rivers and snowscapes and records his interventions with photographs, maps and texts.
This will be his first solo exhibition with Lisson Gallery in over three decades, after beginning his career with the gallery in the 1970s. The same themes continue to concern him – from the real and conceptual routes he traverses, to the existential notion of the solitary exploration of nature. An image of Long’s red, one-man tent, perched on the expanse of the Driscoll Glacier in 2012, depicts his continuing commitment to making art in the most remote and uninhabited corners of the world and represents his first trip to the Antarctic region. This exhibition brings together pieces made on walks in England and Switzerland as well as Antarctica and introduces a new work made directly in the gallery.
Other works include a sculpture of standing stones made of Delabole slate from Cornwall, accompanied by a new series of large, gestural mud works using white Cornish clay and tidal river mud gathered from the banks of the Avon in Bristol. These works are formed as much by natural forces – including gravity and the fluidity of the watery material – as they are by the human energy of Long’s body and hand. In addition to bringing actual raw matter from the outside into the space of the gallery, Long also provides experience of his walks through text and photography.
The text work documenting his 240 mile, eight day walk from Cornwall to Oxfordshire describes the walk in terms of geology, namely the five materials encountered along the way: slate, granite, sandstone, limestone, chalk. One photo-work, entitled Romansch Stones (2013), provides the only remaining evidence of a stone circle made along a 16-day walk through the Engadine region of the Swiss Alps.
Richard Long, 23 May – 12 July, Lisson Gallery 52-54 Bell Street, London, www.lissongallery.com
1. Richard Long, Cornwall Spiral, (2012) Cornish China clay on wood panel 111 x 107 x 1 cm