Letitia Art Gallery’s new solo exhibition by British light artist Nathaniel Rackowe takes the city of Beirut as a point of departure in order to investigate the ever-changing nature of cites, and their continual destruction and renewal.
Titled The Shape of a City, Rackowe uses industrial materials such as corrugated roofing, galvanised steel and cement blocks, and combines them with artificial light; used to soften the hard edges of the mass produced materials, allowing him to explore the ways in which urban dwellers must continually adapt their behaviour to successfully negotiate the built environment.
Dominating the entrance and cutting through the gallery space is a large scale installation, which invites viewers to interact with it by walking around or passing through it. The structure, LP48, combines different construction materials, which have been locally-sourced, – mass-produced, glass re-enforced plastic sheeting and folded galvanised steel – with standard white fluorescent lights, creating a structure that hovers between minimal installation and building site. LP48 demonstrates a progression from Rackowe’s existing Pathfinding series of works, which similarly use locally-sourced blocks and light that has been constructed in cities from Paris to Bangkok.
Occupying the central gallery are six new floor-based sculptural works: cement blocks, each illuminated by a cube of white neon creating a geometric halo of light. These sit alongside a new series of framed, mixed-media works on paper, Petrol Station Series, the scale of which will range from small works to one large scale piece.
The Shape of a City extends beyond the walls of Letitia Gallery with the installation of two large-scale public works – Black Shed Expanded and LP46 – which are situated in various publicly-accessible spaces in downtown Beirut.
Nathaniel Rackowe says: “Beirut, the city itself, has become the specific departure point for a new series of work. These sculptures and works on paper seek to explore the notion of a fleeting beauty that an urban environment can surprise us with, allowing me to combine a formal and spacial investigation with concepts of habitation, alienation, movement, and cognitive mapping.”
The Shape of a City runs from June 27 to August 25, 2018 at Letitia Art Gallery in Beirut