Parasolstice Winter Light 2016 – Nathaniel Rackowe

27 October 2016 - 12 March 2017

Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art is delighted to present Black Shed Expanded, 2014/2016, an extraordinary light sculpture by London-based artist Nathaniel Rackowe. This work is the 2016 addition to the ParasolsticeWinter Light series, for which Parasol unit invites a contemporary artist to exhibit a work that addresses the phenomenon of light.

Displayed on the foundation’s terrace throughout the months of winter, Nathaniel Rackowe’s large-scale urban shed structure is installed, seemingly mid-explosion, upside-down, its contours wrenched apart, exposing its illuminated interior. The wooden shed, painted with black bitumen, emanates an eerie acid-yellow glow from the white strip-lighting inside it reflecting off the painted walls of its interior. The structure appears to be exploding, as if it is being split apart by the force of the light within it. Rackowe says, ‘I thought it would be interesting to take the humble shed and elevate it so it can rise up and challenge architecture and also deconstruct it to the point where you are forced to re-read it.’ Although a direct reference to the ubiquity of garden sheds throughout the suburbs of London, the work has an equally universal impact in its depiction of such a familiar, domestic structure.

Rackowe often combines elements of light and movement, the crucial components of his practice. Essentially inspired by the urban environment, the primary impetus behind his works is the growth and shifting nature of a city. He uses recognisable urban infrastructure and industrial products, such as scaffolding poles or breeze blocks, and in this instance a garden shed. After deconstructing the idea of a structure he rebuilds it tangibly with the added element of light. The intention is to recreate the experience of being in and moving through an urban environment with particular emphasis on in-between spaces, where light fluctuates from negative to positive. Each material he selects ‘carries specific associations’, which are reiterated through his distortion of their intended function.

Inspired by constructivist and deconstructivist artists such as Vladimir Tatlin, Richard Serra, and Gordon Matta-Clark, Rackowe’s works also pay particular homage to the artists Donald Judd and Dan Flavin. Similarly, Rackowe uses mass-produced industrial materials together with the element of light to create contemporary monuments that enliven our urban reality.