FOLD is pleased to present Passing Through a solo show by Nathaniel Rackowe, his second with the gallery. Rackowe’s practice spans public art, installation, sculpture, photography and painting, and in the last five years an increasing focus on performance, collaborating with choreographer Angela Woodhouse.
Passing Through refers to the body in motion – the act of moving through space. It also describes the less purposeful movement of ‘just passing through’. Rackowe links this to his lockdown experience of exploring space in different ways, where moving though London on walks, runs and bike rides, was for its own ends, and not a means to reach a destination.
“I spent a lot of time considering how the urban and rural collide and overlap. Passing through these layered spaces is what has inspired these works. They are more instinctual than other recent work. Responding more to the spaces and materiality of the built and natural environments…”
The title also refers to encountering the artworks themselves, how they change colour and shift form, as you move around them. The materials and geometry employed in these new works ensure movement is required to unpick what they are, putting emphasis on the journey over the destination. This has become increasingly relevant for Rackowe, who is coming out of a year and a half of cancer treatment.
“Now more then ever I appreciate being in the moment. Being present and mindful while passing through. Finding beauty and inspiration in those moments of motion, my approach to this show has been really open ended, allowing developments and shifts, allowing forms, materials and geometry to present itself as the works develop.”
The new works combine functional and some highly technical materials, pulling them apart, chopping and reconfiguring them in a way that negates their intended purpose. Dichroic films; surfaces that bend the colour of light as you move around them, are fused with aluminium honeycomb GRP sheets, a material more commonly found in aircraft. Crumpled scaffolding netting becomes a topographical surface through which to glimpse ordered structure and gradients of urban colour. Geometry is layered and fractures the picture plane, meaning the form of the work changes from every perspective. The works read as almost instinctual gestures in response to the spaces Rackowe has moved through in the last two years, both physically and emotionally.
In conjunction with his solo show, Rackowe is presenting a large-scale temporary public sculpture, entitled Folly, located beside the Thames on Millbank. The notion of passing through relates strongly to this work, as Rackowe’s shed series of sculptures were originally conceived on regular trips along the North London Line. The elevated views from the train, into the back gardens of dozens of London terraced houses, afforded glimpses of sheds and outbuildings, the kind of inbetween, and anti-architecture that Rackowe sees as the glue that holds a city together.
The title of the work refers to architectural structures known as Follies, which were 18th century non or semi functional “buildings” constructed solely to be viewed from another building or vantage point and enhance the aesthetics of the vista. Rackowe grew up near a well-known folly in the grounds of Wimpole Hall, outside Cambridge, and spent countless hours day-dreaming there as a child. This artwork occupies the same liminal space, hovering between the familiar and the unknown, stripped as it is of its associated function; this is more than a shed turned on its head.