MIDDLESBROUGH.- Over the past thirty years, Eric Bainbridge has worked across a range of different materials producing a remarkably diverse and varied body of work and is considered by many to be one of the most influential British Sculptors living today.
Although containing examples of the artist's lifework this exhibition is not a retrospective. In fact the title Forward Thinking is the opposite. This is an important detail for an artist whose work has always resisted looking backwards.
In the early 1980s he began to fabricate giant sculptures composed of objects taken from nature, modern design and everyday life. Camouflaged with fake fur patterns, evocative of that time, their scale and quality reflected increased global prosperity and societies insatiable appetite for all things mechanically reproduced. These works catapulted Bainbridge to the forefront of a generation of artists who challenged ideas of value.
The allure of mass-produced objects and their complex meaning has remained a key subject for Bainbridge. He has continued to borrow from these items, their form, and their material presenting them in configurations that draw attention to and often re-think their inherent characteristics.
The selection of works for the exhibition represents most of the key turning points for the artist. Opening with Couch, 1976, an early photograph of a sofa decorated by the artist with sods of earth, through to Dark Style Swan, 1983, one of his renowned fake fur sculptures. Mirror, 1990, Modernised Domestic Appliance, 1995 and Flowers for Cologne 2008 continue his investigation into the use and value behind a number of our modern conveniences. In recent times Bainbridge has predominantly worked with melamine, a type of chipboard made from reclaimed stock, a further indication of his concerns with the status of objects and with recycling pre-consumer and post-consumer waste. mima is delighted to exhibit for the first time a set of forty drawings personally selected by the artist from his archive, which has been carefully maintained since the beginning of his career.
Eric Bainbridge was born in Consett, County Durham in 1955 and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1981. Eric Bainbridge has exhibited extensively on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the 1980s and 1990s including several highly acclaimed exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. He is currently Professor of Fine Art at the University of Sunderland.
To complement the exhibition mima will publish a signed and numbered, editioned catalogue designed by Ben Brannigan Studio including installation shots of the exhibition and select images of the artist's work from 1976 to date. In addition it will include specially commissioned written and visual contributions by Phyllida Barlow, Ralf Brög, Ryan Gander, Melissa Gronlund, Daniel Silver and Richard Wentworth. The introduction of these voices is a strategy to help contextualize Erics practice and provide readers with the opportunity to make connections to the wider field of contemporary art. Available from mima's shop from October 2008.