Review: Strangely drawn to surreal spaces

Nigel Hall, The Economist Plaza, London

The Economist building houses probably the least-known public exhibition venue in London's West End. Open every day from 10am until 8pm, the gallery space on the ground floor has plentiful natural light, while outside on the plaza is a self-contained sculpture court.

Currently on view in both spaces is a fascinating exhibition of work by the sculptor Nigel Hall. Neither a retrospective nor a show of purely recent work, the exhibition juxtaposes two separate periods - the Sixties and the Nineties. This meeting of past and present is a fruitful one, not least because comparison throws more light on the strengths of each group of work, but also because a continuity of concerns can be seen emerging from what superficially seem to be very different kinds of art.

Nine drawings from 1964-5 form the bulk of the exhibition. These feature interiors lit by baleful lightbulbs, with over-large matches springing from tabletops, a sculpted head or a sitting/leaning figure sculpture. Often an electric fire plugged into a light socket heats the room; in one, a nude is sprawled. The imagery is almost surreal, half-observed and half-imagined, and shares a similar inventive quirkiness with early Hockney drawings. Three versions of the same scene called Loud Interior depict an old-fashioned cistern lavatory. Hall makes one drawing with pencil, another with vivid orange crayon, the third with collaged wallpaper.

All these drawings are concerned with the positioning of objects in space, and with relating one thing spatially to another. They are far more figurative than the sculptures, which appear almost abstract in comparison. The pieces from the Sixties are mostly suspended or leaning forms. They are very much about the space around them, the space between their largely linear elements, but their subjects are still based in the real world. One of these fibreglass Sixties pieces, for instance, is called Goldstone Lake, after a dry lake in California's Mojave desert. Another, entitled Magnet, is two clouds suspended over two greeny carpets of countryside like doormats placed on either side of a large standing arch.

Contrasting with this early work are three recent drawings. These are elegantly rigorous abstract shapes, and there is an astringent richness to this new work. On the plaza, two naturally rusted cor-ten steel sculptures rest lightly. These employ forms based on sections through a cone, with wedges or struts. Passage, which looks like a bottomless bucket welded to an arc of steel, is particularly serene. Hall has achieved a satisfying balance of dynamic form and stillness. All these works, but particularly the drawings, fit well with the architecture. The Contemporary Art Society should be praised for such an excellent project.

Nigel Hall: Sculpture and works on paper is at The Economist Plaza, 25 St James's St, London SWI, 0171-830 7105, until 26 Oct.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
News
news
Sport
Lewis Hamilton with the Santander trophy after winning last year’s British Grand Prix
F1It's the race organisers who are to blame, apparently
News
peopleFormer Disney CEO isn't going to win any fans with this quote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

    Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test