Lisson Gallery

Tony Cragg in the studio

Tony Cragg in the studio

Focusing on the resonance of gathering, layering and stacking in Tony Cragg’s practice, here the artist discusses his studio practice and the process of stratification, compilation, accrual and accumulation in his work:

"Sculpture is not about practicalities. It doesn’t have to be functional. Only sculpture takes on forms that just grow into space and become psychological and emotional in their expression.

I went to Art School in 1969 and I entered without having an initial interest in sculpture. I entered into this because it was such a dynamic and interesting thing to do. I found it was an amazing activity, just to move the material around, just to make things. It was an emotional experience to move material but also one that changed one’s own ideas. 

I wanted to make very simple things. I had belief that just anything one made had an emotional quality and had a meaning. Even tying knots in things, giving things a form.

I think when we see something, we have psychological pressure to see beyond the surface, and looking beyond the surface, we want to find what those energies are, and we interpret or we guess at what these energies are. That is really a great part of looking at the world in general but a very important part of looking at sculpture.

What I try to do in my work is to use the surface as a way of indicating what is underneath the surface. Therefore, what I make is not chaotic. I try to have a formal system that is inside the work. 

Where the internal formal construction I build it up until it has an emotional quality and the more complicated those geometries become, the more energetic and dynamic the material."

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