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Monday, 12 May, 2003, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Anthony Gormley
Anthony Gormley exhibition
Newsnight Review discussed Domain Field and other work by Anthony Gormley at Baltic in Gateshead.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)

Absolutely wonderful, to go back to Newcastle and be there in the Baltic Centre was wonderful. These are extraordinary sculptures. He is a great visionary. He is very learned. There is a real spiritual sense in him. A lot of Bauhouse, Kandinsky coming in and Paul Clay. But it's absolutely his own person. The way in which he can put his art, going on into the 21st century and the next millennium, and then the 20th century history is there - the death camps, The Gulag Archipelago, what it's like to be part of an anonymous crowd and live in big cities. Yet he has a great sense of community. He wants to involve everybody in the production of art, so you have people looking at these sculptures being made. It was being with those artists, watching the welding, like a series of medieval masons creating a cathedral. It was spectacular.

He speaks about art in an academic way, and yet he clearly connects with the public. It's a rare double act.

It is a really rare double act. That's what makes his work so amazing. It's infused with these great ideas, but it has this visceral, physical effect. I was sad not to have seen this work in its final arrangements. It's always hard to talk about a work until you have seen it physically, but obviously in this work, the process is part of the work of art. As Tom said, there's something very moving about it. The work is obviously partly about putting boundaries between the individual and the community. That's clearly what the people who participated in the work of art felt - from what was said in the catalogue, they did find it a very moving process being involved in that. When it's all laid out in the room, it will be quite extraordinary, going into it. You won't be able to quite see where the boundaries of each individual sculpture are. It will look rather like a mass, and then you will go in and see them in particular. Each one of them is very beautiful. They come at you as individual pieces, with this lovely sense of light and energy.

I think the most interesting thing for me was that, with sculpture of the human form, you are really dealing with skin, what covers us. He has managed to strip that away. He is not interested in that. He says himself he is much more interested in what's beneath the skin. He is interested in the action and the energy. When you look at these things, they look like they are exploding out at you. It looks like the energy and the core is bursting out. Those were fascinating, to see lots of them in such an enclosed space, which can seem claustrophobic. They kind of move as you walk past them. There is a kind of animaltronic tremble to them which is extraordinary.

There is this Buddhist sense in this. On the one hand, it's the body and it's history and society. On the other hand, no, he has gone somewhere else completely, and he can put opposites together in a quite unique way.

If you are going to make a criticism of it, some people might find it too dispassionate. It does seem to objectify people. He is such a cerebral artist and he is good at explaining himself. He has a big project and it's exciting to watch it through the course of his career. It does seem it's not as humane as some art you were seeing.

But I think people make it their own. He was saying about the Angel of the North, when first put up it was this massive stark monument and then people took it to their hearts.

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