Outpost - Lee Grandjean


It was 1966, my Dad took me to see 'Death of A Salesman' by Arthur Miller at the Unity Theatre, a socialist cultural enterprise. Willie Lomax, the main character bewails the death of his personal American Dream from the top of a scaffolding structure that represents the family city apartment. I'm in my seat surrounded by other people, there is the fabric of the surrounding building, all that paraphernalia on stage but I am convinced, I am there alone sharing his catastrophe, I believe. On the bus back from Camden Town to Peckham Rye I am in a daze of wonder at the revelation of it. I am 16. 'Let's Go' is the last line of spoken dialogue in Samuel Becket's play 'Waiting for Godot'. The next line in the script is a stern stage direction from the author: [They do not move]. It is the condition I celebrate in sculpture: all the energy is implicit and potential, all possibility in one moment, going on in a frozen forever. For real affect nothing is literal in this work. It's all proud artefact, existing nowhere else, imagined, but here. It is the stuff of the disturbing dream, embodied. The real of the material is there right enough, process evident: timber structure, plywood shapes, edges, vectors, planes, volumes, cement surfaces, paint. Everything built in passages. All is abandoned but the dynamic continues visually. These characters are cobbled together from ubiquitous building material. They are objects of survival, from the debris and ruin. Hybrids and fusions abound. When I make sculpture I think of painting, the imagined objects within painting. When I am printing and scraping a work on canvas, I can only see the hard profile of things. The ground I imaginatively inhabit is that which underlies, even precedes culture: bodies and biologies, first nature (come to think of it, it could also be of that state when all culture has disappeared). Mash ups: human, animal, insect. What distorted combinations inhabit the last dreams? Argument, conflict, confusion, the grotesque, pathetic effort, humour and perhaps a noble survival, is at the heart of it.
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