Richard Serra: NJ–2, Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure, Rotate
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What’s with male sculptors and the near-pathological need to make work that you have to enter? Between Antony Gormley at White Cube and Richard Serra here at Gagosian, it’s like someone’s set off some kind of Freudian cluster bomb over London. Not that it’s a problem. Being able to walk into, around and through a work of art is great, and Serra’s a well-recognised international master of massive hulking sculptures. It’s a good thing, really.
The main work here – the romantically titled ‘NJ-2’ – is an interlocking set of ginormous Corten steel U-shapes. You enter at one end and snake your way through. Even though it’s big, it still takes much longer to walk through than you’d think, it’s like a trick of perspective that you get trapped in. It’s an overbearing, uncomfortable and pretty damn impressive experience.
Next door is a work of two massive steel cylinders, their surfaces pocked with rust and striations. They’re like a giant real-life colon. A grammatical one, not a butt one, sorry, Freud’s all over this.
Then there’s the same thing but made out of rectangular blocks instead of round ones, making what looks like a big equals sign.
These are simple but impressive sculptures by a great artist. But they’re suffocated by the total sterility of the space. These should be in a public park, with kids climbing over them, and exploring all the spaces they create. But instead, they’re in a dull gallery, and they’ll probably just end up in the lobby of a bank’s headquarters in some needlessly tall skyscraper. Seriously, Freud, what the hell?