Some art is ensconced in academia and complex conceptual ideas; and some art smacks you right in the face by its sheer physical mass and the apparent impossibility in its creation. The work of David Mach is firmly in the latter category. It takes the form of vast installations created from only paper and water (no glue, no trickery, we’re assured); and previous pieces have been so gargantuan as to dwarf objects including a truck, cars, and even an aeroplane. As such, galleries have previously had to take down walls and frontages to even make the pieces possible.
The next brave gallery to accommodate Mach’s work is the Griffin Gallery in west London, which will also be giving viewers a chance to see his installation and creation process by opening its doors a few of weeks before the show, while he’s setting up. It forges an interestingly performative element to his work, and encourages a child-like wonder at how he manages to pull these things off.
The show will involve 30 tonnes of newspaper, arranged in huge tsunami waves across the space. No cars this time, but it sounds mighty impressive nonetheless.
Mach, a former Turner Prize nominee, has long used unusual but everyday materials in his work: previous projects have included matchstick sculptures (which were later set alight), pieces made of coat hangers, and a 1989 public artwork in Kingston called Out of Order, formed of 12 red phone boxes tipped onto their sides. According to the artist, he started working like this as a reaction against what everyone else was doing. “Everybody at the time was making permanent works. Sculpture that was a solid form, welded together,” he says. “It was formed out of wood or plastics, materials that could be put together permanently in some way and certainly ending up as some kind of object.
“I didn’t want to make objects. I wanted to make something that would certainly appear solid but that couldn’t be taken away like an object.”