How would you describe your work?
Nathaniel Rackowe: I take inspiration from the city around me. Usually London, but it could also be Bangkok, Dubai, or Paris; wherever I am working. The trick is to combine recognisable urban or industrial elements, such as scaffolding poles, breeze blocks, even a garden shed, but then deconstruct them, and put them back together with light. Light is what holds my work together, while also transforming the components parts into a beautiful whole.
Who or what inspired your approach?
Early on I discovered artists like Vladimir Tatlin, Richard Serra, Dan Flavin, Gordon Matta-Clark, and the influence of those artists can still be found in my work. But even before that I was drawn to making sculpture, three dimensional forms. Lego could quite possibly be to blame.
Whose work would you most like to be exhibited alongside?
I love the work of Portuguese artist Pedro Cabrita Reis, but perhaps it’s better to choose an artist whose work I love but is the complete opposite of mine — it could make for a more interesting paring. I think that a single large-scale sculptural work of mine with some big
Agnes Martin works on the walls around it could look pretty great.
In your opinion, what is the most exciting development in contemporary art?
Well for me, given my use of light, that first neon that Bruce Nauman ever made was a pretty massive step. You could argue that it is a simple continuation of Duchamp’s approach to the ready-made, but for me it’s more. For me any material I see around me has the potential to be an art material, and it is fine if almost all of its intended function is stripped away first.
Can you tell us something interesting/unusual about yourself?
Despite being very much a city guy now I grew up in the countryside of Cambridgeshire, and my first three-dimensional constructions were hugely complex camps and hideouts built by me and my school friends. I went back a year ago, and found one particularly impressive camp still remained. It had never been discovered; it seems like my appetite for building surprising structures never ended.
Bianca Chu, Head of Sale for First Open / London: Nathaniel Rackowe references the work of Dan Flavin in his industrial use of fluorescent light. In SP21, the artist contrasts and balances the raw quality of the utilised scaffolding tubes with the softness of the light emanated from the mass-produced fluorescent tubes.
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