Cu Exhibition by Conrad Hicks

11 December 2021 to 4 February 2022

Conrad HicksBlacksmith Conrad Hicks explores the expressive potential of copper in his latest sculpture series, titled Cu.

Hicks contemplates the beauty found in his chosen medium: copper. Through a process of “intuitive forging”, Hicks creates forms in metal whose primary function is to express the subconscious. Cu comprises a series of curvilinear sculptures mounted to the wall and standing on plinths, all made entirely of copper (whose chemical symbol gives the exhibition its name) – in contrast to his 2019 solo, Implement, which showcased collectable furniture made from forged steel and copper.

Hicks allows the raw material to drive the sculptural process, curving and bending organically. By reverting to a primal, instinctual art-making, similar to that of the Abstract Expressionists, he finds the metal’s form through movement and interaction with it. For him, “beauty” is the instinctive response to material: an evolutionary guide or rationale for all decision-making. Beauty is an abstract tool used to determine whether or not something “works” and is the driving force for past and future evolution.

Conrad Hicks, like Dutton and Charles Darwin, believes beauty is universally understood and that a cross-cultural aesthetic resulting from the prehistoric adaptive effects of natural selection (random mutation and selective retention) drives the creation of art. Beauty is thus ‘mutated’ through elimination; responses of repulsion have evolved as a means of survival. For example, the nausea one feels at the sight or smell of rotten food (at ‘ugliness’) is a survival response.

The artworks on show enact this process through the materiality of copper. They are abstract shards, meditative and sensual exercises in the expressive potential of the metal and Hicks’ physical connection to it.

With their distinctive colourings, shapes and textures, the works in Cu assume various guises. Some enfold like cloaks, others appear to billow out like sea jellies or scuttle like a strange reptile. A ribbon-like tendril unfurls, a bony spine pushes through the surface of another. The human imagination is set free, and so is Hicks’s offering.

Southern Guild commissions produces and exhibits contemporary collectable design by the most compelling talents in South Africa and host this exhibition. The gallery has pioneered the collectable design category on the continent, propelling its artists and designers to make original work that is distinctly African and globally relevant.  Founded in 2008 by Trevyn and Julian McGowan, Southern Guild’s rigorous curatorial programme has shaped the world’s perceptions of African design and forged a unique vernacular in the international arena.

Venue: Southern Guild, Silo 5, Silo District, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Time: Monday to Thursday 9am to 6pm | Friday 9am to 5pm | Saturday 10am to 2pm 

Tel: 021 461 2856
Instagram: @southernguildgallery



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