Review: 'Urs Fischer - The Kiss' at Sadie Coles HQ, Davies Street
We’re so lucky. It’s easy to take for granted the presence of London’s Mayfair as Europe’s foremost artistic hub. The YBA set and consequential international explosion of British art that surrounded the movement saw a rejection of high-brow Bond Street and a move east for cheaper rent and younger, more hipster private view attendees. Nonetheless Mayfair has remained at the centre of the action, with a surge in new gallery spaces over the last few years.
Whilst many will notice the continued absence of Sprüth Magers, they will also have seen the openings of Cardi Gallery (on Grafton Street, to accompany their Milan space), Herrick Gallery (on Piccadilly), Nahmad Projects (on Cork Street) and the imminent spring 2017 arrival of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac at Ely House. It’s my happy place, and with the opening of Urs Ficsher’s recent exhibition at Sadie Coles (Davies Street) I’m in seventh heaven.
Through the vast cathedral-esque glass windows I take my first glimpse of Urs Fischer’s The Kiss, a replication of Rodin’s famous sculpture, cast entirely in plasticine. Centring on Fischer’s large sculpture, Sadie Coles’ latest exhibition is another example of the gallery getting the best out of their Davies Street space. Pure, white, immaculate - we all know this one. It’s exactly the kind of thing I want to smear my grubby little mitts all over. This time, it’s asking for it. Literally. Fischer wants us to touch, and up until the 11th March the embracing lovers remain at the will of the visitor.
I read and re-read the press-release, sure that I’ve misunderstood, waiting for the bravest among us to dive in and give it a prod. It’s opening night, so at this point in the life of the sculpture you could be forgiven for mistaking the plasticine for marble, such is the sheen and clarity of its surface. But by closing night (11th March) the embracing lovers could be wearing little hats, or jackets, or they might not be lovers at all, having been moulded and remoulded out of all recognition.
Destroying the boundaries of gallery etiquette, Fischer implores us to collaborate. I could only muster the pressing of my thumb into the foot, and even that felt subversive and not just a little fraught with anxiety. But there were smiles all round and it's clear that I'm not the only one who feels a little buzz of achievement.
Distortion and adaption has always been at the forefront of Urs Fischer’s work. His participatory clay-works eventually crumbled and the wax-sculptures dissolved but here a new focus is placed on continuity and regeneration. Sadie Coles may be finished with The Kiss in early March but the sculpture will live on. It just won't be the version we recognise.
Fun aside: whilst being able to attend Fischer’s masterstroke in contemporary collaboration there is also an opportunity to see a cast of Rodin’s original on 28th February at Christie’s impressionist and modern art sale. The Kiss, rendered in Bronze with brown patina, is expected to command between £4-6 million. Cast in 2010 the 182cm tall sculpture will be on view ahead of the auction from the 23rd to 28th of February.