Phyllida Barlow: demo

Phyllida Barlow: demo

Kunsthalle Zürich

View of Phyllida Barlow, demo, Kunsthalle Zürich, 2016. Courtesy Kunsthalle Zürich.

October 14, 2016
Phyllida Barlow
October 29, 2016–February 19, 2017
Opening: October 28, 6–9pm
Kunsthalle Zürich
Limmatstrasse 270
CH-8005 Zürich

British sculptor Phyllida Barlow’s exhibition demo (as in democracy, demolition or demonstration) is set up to disrupt patterns of perception and celebrate the power of sculpture to obstruct and play with authority. Two divergent, yet massive sculptural interventions both break and celebrate our ideas of sculpture, its contentious relationship to architecture, and the way we experience an exhibition as viewer, manipulated entity, and voyeur. Barlow’s work is an exercise in “as if” where impressions of weight and solidity can’t be trusted; where cardboard, raw cement, mesh wire, and timber have taken the place of bronze and marble; and where painting is not used to unify or decorate a surface, but to set apart and create divergence. While most art quite naturally decorates architecture, in demo architecture is asked to decorate art. 

Unexpected to many, Barlow insists on being a sculptor and a formalist indebted to a classical notion of sculpture, and cites artists such as Germaine Richier or Barbara Hepworth as having an important influence on her. “When I first went to art school, the most exciting thing was to discover sculpture. Later on, I was even more enthralled by sculpture as a language. This embraced more than just literal materiality: it transformed anything and everything into materiality and physicality, and in particular the non-visual experiences of time, place, heat, cold, smell, dimension, in-betweenness, stance, posture, mood, atmosphere, dislocation, absence, displacement…Sculpture performs in some ways like objects in the world that are not sculpture. But as a language, it enables this constant manipulation between something being there to disrupt our relationship with place, space and time and for it to also be re-forming itself, to be constantly metamorphosing, as we encounter and walk around it.”

Phyllida Barlow will represent Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2017.


A series of guided tours, workshops and an artist talk will accompany the exhibition.

“It mustn’t be sculpture”
Artist talk with Phyllida Barlow & Daniel Baumann (Curator/Director)
Friday, February 3, 2017, 6:30pm

For further dates please visit the Kunsthalle Zürich website.  


This exhibition is generously supported by:
Georg und Bertha Schwyzer-Winiker-Stiftung
Stanley Thomas Johnson Stiftung

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Kunsthalle Zürich
October 14, 2016

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