Roger Hiorns

September 11, 2003 - January 18, 2004


This exhibition features three new works by young British artist Roger Hiorns, including two that were created specifically for this presentation. The sculptures explore the transformation of material and the intersection of the abstract and the literal. A number of Hiorns’s works include immaterial and impermanent media such as fire, soap, or perfume – and its related scent. Others contain objects such as thistles, model cathedrals, and car engines encrusted with bright blue crystals. To crystallize the pieces, Hiorns dips the objects in a copper sulfate bath, seemly to relating art to alchemy, thereby throwing the status of art objects and artists into sharp relief.

About the Exhibition

By Siobahn McDevitt


When Roger Hiorns mentioned to me several months ago that he was going to make a figurative sculpture involving a large chain, I primitively visualized a statue in shackles. I should have known better: Hiorns's new piece The Architect's Mother (2003) most certainly deals with figuration, and with a chain, but more on that later. I should have known better because I had a similar experience a few years ago after seeing The coming afflictions suffered for the dirt of love (2001), a big, beautiful woden triangle elegantly, and almost imperceptibly, fixed to the wall. I had heard Hiorns was making another one "with crystal" and wrongly imagined the same structure executed not in wood but in gleaming crystal, a la Baccarat. So I was surprised by the other The coming afflictions suffered for the dirt of love (2001), Hirons's "crystal" piece, which was made of painted metal tubing with bright blue copper sulfate crystals grown on the triangle's three points. I have subsequently gotten used to being wrong about Hiorns much of the time, or at least to having the rug pulled out from under me, although his work doesn't take cheap shots. It's just that truly original thought, let alone truly original art, can be startling.


That's not to say that Hiorns doesn't bear some art historical weight on his shoulders, because he does. In fact, his sculptures have taken the readymade as an explicit point of departure. In Two Forms Yellow and Brown (1999), ceramic pots made by a colleague hang from the ceiling, intermittently sprouting streams of foamy detergent bubbles that flow impotently toward the floor. In Copper Sulfate Chatres Copper Sulfate Notre Dame (1997), Hiorns grew crystal on cardboard architectual maquettes, their Gothic intracacies sparkling with blue mineral formations. His work repeatedly investigates this nexus of material and form, often testing the mutability of and obeject's usefuleness of significanceand its appearance: could an architectual model laden with bright crystals somehow come closer to the experience of an actual cathedral? In more recent work the incorporated readymade is not commisioned or store-bought but collected from nature: thistles encrusted with copper sulfate crystals and fixed with velcro hang from tall steel poles in Vauxhall and Discipline (both 2003). More

Siobahn McDevitt lives in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, Frieze, and Vanity Fair.

Hammer Projects are curated by James Elaine.


Hammer Projects are made possible with support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and members of the Hammer Circle.

This exhibition received additional assistance from the British Council.

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