Stephen Willats: Representing the Possible at the Victoria Miro Gallery
Bringing together previously unseen pieces from the 1960s and the present day, Stephen Willats’ Representing the Possible, is an impressive survey of the artist’s work with paper.
Conceived as an entire installation, four large-scale, site-specific drawings transform the white walls of the gallery into a kind of drawn environment, as 37 separate works are hung upon their surfaces. Confounding traditional forms of curation, that of individual works being placed upon a blank wall, Willats challenges the very means of experiencing at art. Experienced as a single work, this immersive installation is a first for the artist on this scale.
Rejecting aesthetic expression in favour of a series of signs, shapes and arrows, is typical of Willats – a major international representative of concept art in England during the 60s and 70s. Willats’ work examines the mechanics of cognition; how we communicate with each other, and how we see and interpret data. Speaking on the significance of drawing, in a text accompanying the exhibition, Willats argues: “what as a thought is internal, transient and unfocused, through the process of drawing becomes clear and possible; to be understood by someone else, from one person to another.” Through the process of drawing, Willats is able to give form to something that doesn’t previously exist in material terms, but exists only as a thought or rather a possibility, hence this notion of “representing the possible”.
Situated somewhere between art and other disciplines such as cybernetics, systems research, learning theory, communications theory and computer technology, Willats work is thought-provoking and original. Effective as an entire installation, and yet individually, each of the 37 works have a powerful ability to stand alone. For that reason, the exhibition is worth a visit.
In addition to Representing the Possible, Willats work is also being celebrated at the Raven Row until 30th March, and with an archive exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery until September.
Photos: Patricia Sarmiento
Stephen Willats: Representing the Possible is at the Victoria Miro Gallery from 13th March until 17th April 2014. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.