The Little Art Window: CONRAD SHAWCROSS: The Patterns of Absence

27 December 2021 - 1 July 2022
The Patterns of Absence (PS15D4) is a new unique work created by Shawcross especially for the Little Art Window, Gstaad.  Akin to a stained glass window, which is activated by the light of the Sun, the work continues the artists' ongoing investigations into optics, movement and light. The two slow rotating back-lit disks are peppered with a complex and exact layering of colours and holes, which, as they move over each other, cause the voids or absences contained within the surfaces to interfere and react, leading to an ever changing counterpoint of tonal hues within the shifting optic pattern. 
“ As each viewer gazes upon the shifting surface, strange patterns seem to appear and vanish, new associations are triggered and memories recollected while new neural pathways and connections are prompted by the complex abstract optics contained within the work. “  

Imbued with an appearance of scientific rationality, Conrad Shawcross’ sculptures explore subjects that lie on the borders of geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics. Inspired by different technologies, the artist's structures may retain in appearance the authority of machines – yet their raison d’être remains illusive, filled with paradox and wonder. Some have a melancholy feel, while others tend to the sublime, substituting the purely functional for phenomenological experience.


The Patterns of Absence series coincides with the recent launch of the public commission Beacons, which continues the artist’s exploration of optics and visual perception. Beacons comprises four monumental disks that stand atop the Ramsgate cliffs, casting a colourful semaphoric message of hope far out to sea. The optic potency of the works is further enhanced by the cranking of a handle that turns each pairs of perforated disks. The movement of these against each other and the sky creates optic interference and so further activates receptors in the eye, which enhances the ability to send the cryptic message – the word ‘home’ written in semaphore, chosen by local school children – even further out to sea.


Over two decades, Shawcross has paid tribute to some of the great pioneers and analysts, and considered specific moments or figures from the past. Shawcross’ art dons a cloak of rationality in order to conceal its more poetic heart. Interrogating what we take for granted and encouraging us us to see beyond the physical and remember how limited our perception envelope really is.


Shawcross has completed numerous monumental public commissions across the world, including Paradigm (2016) outside the Francis Crick Institute in London, the 50 metre tall The Optic Cloak (2016) in Greenwich, the 18-metre tall Exploded Paradigm (2018) inside the atrium of the Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia, and Schism (2020) at Château La Coste in Provence, France. He has exhibited at institutions across the world, including Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut, USA, the National Gallery in London, ARTMIA in Beijing, and Château La Coste in France. He is represented by Victoria Miro in London and Tucci Russo in Italy.