(Australia 1931– )
29.0 x 33.0 x 33.0cm
Ken Unsworth came to prominence as a sculptor in the 1970s, when he combined performance or body art with highly conceptual sculptural forms. Some of these performances, in particular ‘Five secular settings for sculpture as ritual’, involved using his own body as a kind of minimalist sculpture. In one, he posed spread-eagle on the wall, held aloft by a pole between his shoulder blades in a visual recreation of Richard Serra’s prop sculptures.
Unsworth was one of our most richly inventive sculptors during this period, combing the language of minimalism with a sensitivity towards often natural materials. 'Suspended Stone Circle II' in the Gallery’s collection is one of our most popular works and deservedly so as it combines the serial repetition of minimalism with the natural materials of land art and the sheer wonder of seeing stones so marvellously ordered and suspended in the exhibition space. As in all of Unsworth’s work, even his most reduced forms suggest an engagement with metaphysics and the human condition.
This group of maquettes embody many of the key themes in his practice during this time: balance, weightlessness and gravity, minimal forms and natural or traditional sculptural materials adapted to his vision. The propped slates of 'Untitled: slate slab series' 1973 have the tension and danger of improbable balance. The more formal 'Untitled' 1969 also addresses balance with its thrusting forms, as does 'Untitled' 1976 in which a steel circle hovers around a central cone. In all three works an inventive exploration of form and materials creates highly accomplished and satisfying sculptures. While they are small in scale, Unsworth’s vision during this time is immense.
Kate van den Boogert (Australia) (Editor), Ken Unsworth, Melbourne, 1998, 28 (illus.).
Ken Unsworth, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 02 Oct 1998–15 Nov 1998.