Charles Hadcock at the Reeds Wharf Gallery, London

Year: 1996
Location: Reeds Wharf Gallery, London SE1
Type: Solo Exhibition: first one man exhibition in a commercial Gallery owned by Stephen Lacey
Publication: What’s On
Author: Andrew Lambirth

Charles Hadcock at the Reeds Wharf Gallery, London

Article Text: Investigating Multiples is Charles Hadcock’s first proper one-man show. Born in 1965, Hadcock trained at Gloucester College of Arts and Technology, before studying at London’s Royal College. His sculptures explore our relationship with production-line aesthetics, taking or aping the mass produced and re-casting it as high art. Hadcock either builds up sculptures from identical units – on the pre-fabricated housing theory – or he takes the ubiquitous polystyrene packaging used to protect our valuable consumer goods on their voyage home, finds a new identity within it and casts it in metal.

For the last two years Hadcock has been working on a series of large-scale, unit-based sculptures with the title Caesura.  He is fortunate that one of the key pieces in this series has been bought by the Hat Hill Sculpture Foundation, at Goodwood in Sussex, and that the head of sculpture there, Ann Elliot, has written perceptive texts for both the exhibition card and the catalogue. Caesura means the pause or break in a line of verse, and it comes from the verb ‘to cut off’. What Hadcock does with these big sculptures is to cut them off, in their prime, as it were, so that as fragments they suggest a proposed larger whole rather than describing it.  A bronze maquette for the sculpture bought for Goodwood is in this exhibition and it is strange to think of it, 10 times larger reproduced in cast iron. On the floor of the Reeds Wharf Gallery, (which suits the display of sculpture admirably) is Caesura V composed of cast iron parallelograms bolted together in two discrete sections.These represent two fragments of a sphere, one concave, one convex: the first if completed would sit upon the floor the second would pass through it. The convex surface has the look of a mud flat at low tide, else its texture is made to emulate paving stones.

These pieces are close in intention and mood to architecture, and as Ann Elliot writes: ‘Hadcock achieves something like the monumentality and authority of ruins’. The combination of rugged surface to suggest stone and polished edge, end or inside, to suggest machine, is poignant.  The sculptures made from polystyrene moulds are impressive . Not only has Hadcock reversed our expectations, making something lightweight and disposable into something heavy, durable and full of new meaning, but he has in one case made a witty commentary on another work of art. Feast In the House Of Levi, an aluminium sculpture of two elements, in black and dull silver, is based on Veronese’s painting of that name. The two sides of Hadcock’s art seem to be merging, for in his most recent piece Endless Frieze, the packaging units are repeated in a line, in theory to infinity. The sculpture is hung high towards the ceiling in a corner, but it is not put out of the way.  The box format which before now Hadcock had sliced neatly in half for his compositions (see the unlimited numbered edition bronze Infinite Numbers), is thus extended like the Caesura series.  Here is an artist technically assured with lots of ideas and the engineering skills to realise them.  Catch this show before it closes.

Also see: Charles Hadcock at The Cass Sculpture Foundation, Chichester