Catalogue text, Biennale Gwangju.
“Thom Puckey's focused sculptural language produces images that, while crystallized in sculptural form, persist and flicker in the mind in the manner of cinema and literature. For the installation True Light (1987), two mannequins fully dressed in Victorian garb (a man and a woman) stand on a ten-meter long, cruciform shaped platform, each holding a disc of green or red glass, a physical duality that directly references Jan van Eyck's famed Arnofini Portrait (1434). Between them, miniature wood marionettes, all dressed in identical uniforms, mill about with tiny props, while a magnifying glass focuses a small disc of light on the rear panel of the platform. The work suggests an oblique but imagistic narrative, and even includes a sculptural rendering of the technology of image production itself – again, a nod to the complex optical illusions within van Eyck's portrait. Puckey's more recent, marble sculptures are made from live models and produced in a laborious, classical method of casting and finishing. They depict disturbing scenes: realistically rendered nude women, posed in the manner of nineteenth century history paintings, aim and fire brutal-looking contemporary military technology into an imagined horizon of space, if not at each other. Collapsing classical studio techniques with art-historical legacies and contemporary political implications, Puckey continues to coax from his frozen material a kind of trans-historical living image.”
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