London-based artist, Tom Price (b. 1973), heads across the ocean for his first solo exhibition in the USA. Debuting new work at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, his show explores the notions of presence and absence and the idea that these two states are dependent on one another whilst at the same time appear conflicting. Emphasising the notion of contrast, he utilises natural coal and synthetic resin in his work which features hollow bodies and voids of coal alongside large columns of internally-fractured resin.
Price’s interest lies in his materials: much of the work he produces looks at the way familiar materials can be encouraged to behave in unfamiliar ways. Chance is an essential element in this process and it operates in combination with unique tools that subvert conventional manufacturing techniques. His background in both sculpure and design combine to create an innovative practice that manipulates popular or common materials in new and interesting ways.
The use of coal is a testament to the material itself: an incredibly potent source of energy, coal remains the principle provider of electric energy throughout the world today. It both supplies power to sustain and support new life, whilst simultaneously offering a significant contribution to the environmental pollution that threatens the survival of the human species. In addition to being a destructive force, coal represents a relatively pure source of carbon, which is an essential building block of all living organisms. The process through which coal becomes coal is witness to the transient and transformative nature of life of Earth. The fact that this material exists within this dichotomy, where it at once signifies two seemingly incompatible concepts, makes it the perfect choice for Tom Price’s new work, which focuses on the duality of life.
Tom Price, Presence and Absence, until 4 January, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO, www.nelson-atkins.org.
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1.Tom Price, English (b. 1973). The Presence of Absence (detail), (2014). Coal, PVA, steel and epoxy. Courtesy of the artist.