Contemporary Art Market: Sculptor casts himself in star role

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The Independent Online
ANTONY GORMLEY, one of the most brilliant British sculptors to make a name for himself in the 1980s, is having his first commercial show in London since 1983. His return highlights the new electricity in the London contemporary scene.

Gormley has had dealers who handled his work in New York, Milan and Stockholm - he is represented in nearly every Scandinavian museum - but, until recently, the market for contemporary art was so dead in Britain that he did not bother with a British dealer.

Now he has signed up with Jay Jopling, Damien Hirst's agent and the most dynamic young dealer around. He is showing a cast of his own body stretched out on its back with arms and legs thrown out, naked and relaxed, at Jopling's White Cube gallery in Duke Street, St James's.

Gormley has given the cast a thin skin of lead which transforms its presence from the particular to the general; it becomes an image of 'the body' with which we can all identify.

The sculpture is called Lost Subject, a play on the nature of subjectivity. Like much of Gormley's sculpture, it encourages the viewer to contemplate the way the human body is a material capsule of self and hints at the transcendent nature of reality. You can see it at White Cube from noon to 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays until 7 May, or by special appointment. You can buy it for pounds 35,000.

Or, if you cannot afford it, you can buy Gormley's slight but fascinating black ink drawings - free explorations of the body in washes of Indian ink - which come singly at pounds 700, in pairs at pounds 1,250 and in sets of three at pounds 1,800. Jopling started out with 43 of them and sold more than half in a week.

A joint exhibition of Gormley and Alison Wilding, curated by the Contemporary Art Society, opens on the top floor of the ITN building at 200 Gray's Inn Road, London, on 26 April.

Another example of foreigners appreciating British art ahead of the British themselves is provided by the exhibition of Andrew James's sculpture at Entwhistle (37 Old Bond Street) curated by a young Japanese dealer, Rumiko Torii.

James, who studied at Chelsea and the Slade, makes plump plastic doll-like figures who act out human dramas.

Those at Entwhistle are child-sized and bronzed to make them look like civic sculptures; the standing and walking figures, from editions of 25 each, cost pounds 1,000; a figure with a placard on a soap box, from an edition of three, costs pounds 2,200 and a figure with a pushchair and a baby, also from an edition of three, pounds 2,500.

James, 34, had his first solo exhibition at the Hales Gallery, a bright new venue in Deptford High Street, south London, last year. Rumiko Torii shows Hales Gallery artists in Japan and has been invited by Lance Entwhistle to curate contemporary shows in his Bond Street Gallery. It seems bizarre that Deptford should be linked to Bond Street via Japan.

(Photograph omitted)