Imaginary Solutions Film

1 Jan 2023
Barry Flanagan Archive, London, United Kingdom
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The new film ‘Imaginary Solutions’ (17 mins) presents Flanagan’s diverse experimentation with materials and passionate commitment to redefining sculpture’s parameters. His inventiveness and versatility are illustrated with interviews and archive recordings. These include Flanagan’s television appearance on The South Bank Show with Melvyn Bragg in 1983 and an interview with artist Andy Holden that was broadcast on Resonance FM in 2008.

“I prefer working with the essential stuff of sculpture rather than my own “ambitions” for it. This way I hope to find things” Barry Flanagan, 1969

Interviewees include artists and collaborators who knew Flanagan for years; Bruce McLean, a fellow student from St Martins, Jerry Hughes, AB Fine Art Foundry Manager who worked closely with him for decades, Mark Jones, artist and metal worker who assisted Flanagan at the foundry. Swiss artist Sophie Bouvier Ausländer who first encountered Flanagan’s work as a student and describes the lasting effects on her thinking, and Director of the estate of Barry Flanagan Dr. Jo Melvin.

“He loosened things up a bit for a lot of people.” Bruce McLean, 2022

McLean picks up of Flanagan’s particular way of speaking, how he used gaps between words with purposeful effect, the silences often becoming as potent as the words themselves.
“He was an ummster, ummist, a post-conceptual ummist”

Flanagan’s understanding and love of materials is described by Jerry Hughes. He talks about the fluidity in which he worked, using many different mediums, not just the sculptures in bronze for which he is most well-known.

Mark Jones recalls Flanagan’s approach to working with people and how he successfully uses art as a language to communicate.

Sophie Bouvier Auslander talks about seeing the presence of the hand as central to Barry Flanagan’s practice and the merging of boundaries.
“I think it’s quite touching, actually, to recognize the artist’s hand in a work, because it looks really alive. If you think about earlier works, they are open to a field of possibilities. Everything can happen.…incidents, accidents are creative. It’s a creative process. It opens door(s) to new ideas and fields you wouldn’t have imagined before.”

Dr. Jo Melvin discusses how Flanagan was naturally immersed in the exploration of materials and
how his lifelong interest in Alfred Jarry’s philosophy of ‘pataphysics led him to adopt the notion of the science of imaginary solutions.

Watch the film here

Image: Barry Flanagan sculpting with clay in the studio of the Llorens Artigas Foundation, c. 1993-96. Photo Gabriela Salgado

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