Drawn Apart is a counterpart piece to Gormley’s installation, Drawn, in which 8 of these figures are installed in each corner of a gallery, arms and legs connoting the vertical and horizontal lines of our familiar habitat. In Drawn, a single body is unnamed, vulnerable, at the margins of a space inserted back into the corner that moulded it, most often tipped or inverted: ‘flung’ to the corner making the viewer a little uncertain about which way is up. Drawn Apart is a defining example of this nearly three-decade exploration into, in the artist’s own words, “how you could use sculpture as a lever to undermine the certainty of the spectator in his or her position in space.”
This work is key example of his lifelong quest to re-animate the body in sculpture. As the artist has said:
“The body is the place we all live. I didn’t want to carry on where Rodin left off, I wanted to bring the body back into art less as an object than as a place. By using the body I inhabit, I can work from feeling, from the inside, from the other side of appearance. That’s a critical point in the proposition of the work. We all engage with the world from the other side of our appearances. How do we begin to make an objective witness to that fact? This work uses my body as material, tool and subject. In the same way that Yves Klein’s Leap into the Void (1960) was a captured moment, these are captured moments of lived time that have become objectified. The traditional alliance of architecture and sculpture has always been about stability, about being certain about where you are in space and time but this work is about destabilising all certainties. This piece tries to acknowledge that the earth is spinning at about 1,470 km per hour, which the planet itself is travelling around the sun at 104,000 km per hour, the universe is expanding and nothing is fixed.”
Whether protruding at a ninety-degree angle from a wall (as in Edge of 1984), hovering slightly above the floor (seen in Earth Above Ground of 1986-87), or creating rotating axes of a given room (Drawn), each sculpture interrogates the physical space in which it is located.
A recipient of the Turner Prize in 1994 for the artist’s Field for The British Isles, a collaborative installation of tens of thousands of clay figures, Antony Gormley is widely known for his explorations of the human form and its relationship to space. Often abstracting the body into stacked cubes, tessellating polyhedra, or the sparest steel bar, Gormley crafts a connection with the viewer that allows us to muse upon impermanence, fragility and contingency.