Southard Reid is proud to present The Plagiarist of My Subconscious, an exhibition of new sculpture by Hany Armanious.
Armanious’ work stems from the initial act of looking. Consideration of objects and material often overlooked or discarded, provide the first step in the works’ conception. Elements such as a water bottle, an air conditioning unit, an amateur carved totem, for example, appear in The Plagiarist of My Subconscious in informal arrangements placed on seemingly provisional supports. A key concern in much of his work is the framing and presentation of objects and the physical structures that allow these things to stand.
Having committed to a specific arrangement of objects, Armanious undertakes the moulding and casting of each of its parts, including framework or support structure, in pigmented resin. Through the arduous task of re-presenting these encounters with the humble or ordinary, all the elements - each crack of a table top, vestige of bubble wrap, masking tape, leftover glue and tubular hardware - is then imbued with a particular aura, a shifted material state, rarifying their place in the world. Armanious’ casting practice has been punctuated by his working with semi-precious metals – the pewter-cast vintage film projector in the workDew Point forms a central axis to the show, at once a material anomaly amongst the veristic resin casts, a literalisation of preciousness further underscored by its evident obsolescence as an original object, and also a physical symbol of seeing, suggestion of projected reality.
Despite the primacy of the selection and labour-intensive casting process, Armanious’ sculptures manage to look as if they pre-exist, the chosen objects having found their way together on their own in some other, metaphysical space. They do this whilst embodying the inherent improbability in what is assembled and the contradictory material truth of what appears to be presented – they remain an approximation of that which they represent. Armanious’ practice has an affiliation with traditional concerns of painting, the representation of forms from ‘real life’; a resin cast paint-stained glass table top in the exhibition is titled Depiction.
Surety and disbelief co-presented in material form and content underpins Armanious’ practice but ultimately the sculptures act as discrete evocations of physical space, compositions reflecting the unconsciously simple but complex relationship between things. The title of Armanious’ show comes from the said proclamation of Dali at the premiere of Joseph Cornell’s 1936 film Rose Hobart, that Cornell had “stolen my dream, was the plagiarist of my subconscious”. This theft of another’s dream can be analogous to the act of extracting objects from the world and hijacking their identity in the service of art.
Hany Armanious, b. Ismalia, Egypt, 1962, lives and works in Sydney, Australia. This will be his first solo show in London. Armanious has exhibited widely, selected solo exhibitions include Hany Armanious: The Golden Thread, Australian Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2011; The Oracle, Contemporary Art Museum St Louis, 2008; The Year of the Pig Sty, Foxy Production, New York and Michael Lett Gallery, Auckland, 2007;Morphic Resonance, City Gallery, Wellington and Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; The Centre of the Universe (Central Core/Hard Core/Soft Core), Auckland Art Gallery, 2004; Selflok, Ian Potter Museum, Melbourne, 2002 and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2001. Recent group shows include Chinatown: the sequel, LTD Los Angeles, 2012, Andreas Reiter Raabe, Charim Ungar Contemporary, Berlin, you, your sun and shadow, Anderson Gallery, Virginia, 2011; Tonite, Modern Institute, Glasgow, Zero, Zero Gallery, Milan, 2009. His work is held in the collections of the Dakis Joannou Foundation, Athens; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Art Gallery of New South Wales and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand. In March 2012 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney installed his commissioned sculpture, Fountain.