Arts and culture writer Eddie Saint-Jean visits the National Gallery to check out the current sculpture on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and the work of the six shortlisted artists.
Eddie Saint-Jean, Arts & Culture
From afar, the current sculpture The End, by artist Heather Phillipson, looks like a giant ice cream cone but wander a little closer and you’ll see it’s quite obviously whipped cream with a fly, cherry and drone on top. Well, that clears that one up!
By July 2021, the vote will be over and this sculpture will be replaced by a new commission.
There are six shortlisted art works and two will be selected as the Fourth Plinth commissions for 2022 and 2024.
You’ll find the exhibition in the National Gallery’s Annenberg Court space on Level 0. Free admission
The six artists are from the UK, Ghana, Mexico, America and Germany – Ibrahim Mahama, Paloma Varga Weisz, Samson Kambalu, Goshka Macuga, Nicole Eisenman, Teresa Margolles
On Hunger and Farming in the Skies of the Past 1957-1966 Ibrahim Mahama
A recreation of a half-constructed grain silo in Tamale, northern Ghana abandoned in the 1960s during construction and now overrun by nature. Ibrahim Mahama’s work is a continuation of his narratives around found objects and their historical and cultural context.
Bumpman for Trafalgar Square Paloma Varga Weisz
The German-born sculptor and draughtswoman draws inspiration from her country’s folklore and 16th-century pamphlet illustrations. The Bumpman is a lowly, humble figure whose body disfigurement draws attention to current-day body dysmorphia.
Antelope Samson Kambalu
Kambalu’s bronze sculpture celebrates two important figures in Pan-Africanism, Malawian Baptist preacher John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley. The distinctive hats reference Chilembwe’s refusal to obey a rule which forbade blacks from wearing hats in the presence of whites.
Go No Go Goshka Macuga
This rocket launch, in sculptural visual language, represents the take-off of a new post-Covid era. The symbolic start and end of a transformative period in history.
The Jewellery Tree Nicole Eisenman
Size aside, this is no ordinary jewellery tree. The trinkets adorning its arms appear worthless, ephemeral and out of place but it’s up to the viewer to ponder the unseen value and hidden memories.
850 Improntas (850 Imprints) Teresa Margolles
The Mexican sculptor will create 850 face casts of members of the trans community. The total casts will be constructed to resemble a tzompantil skull rack from ancient meso-American civilisations used to display sacrifice victims or body parts from prisoners of war.
Below are some of my previous National Gallery art reviews