Sculptor Natalie Guy has worked across a range of materials, but her primary concern is with the way sculptural objects are presented and experienced. Her practice references modernism’s tenets but is also concerned with unpicking modernism’s narrative of self-reflexivity and internal critique.
It could be said that Guy’s sculptures are modernist objects, twice-removed. The plywood chair-parts and paper lightshades that Guy recreates in bronze for her Blind Forms and Akari works represent the terminal point of modernism in the contemporary world. In their original form, these mass-produced objects reveal the reduction of modern design elements to an empty and banal aesthetic. Guy’s facsimiles of such everyday items re-inserts them into a modernist discourse however, and this elevation of the pieces (sometimes literally) requires the viewer to re-contextualise them. Once more attention is paid to the way the forms occupy space, the tactility of their surface, the density of the medium. Guy’s use of bronze immediately places the works within a sculptural chronology reaching back millennia, and in doing so, re-validates their modernist credentials and reinstates them as art-objects.
Guy’s Shin and Soe works draw upon the heavily stylised elements of ikebana, itself a form of minimalist composition, and continues to investigate ideas of abstraction, representation, and self-reflexivity. The bronze branches seen in each of the works operate on a representational level, but the relevance of each is not that it resembles a real-world object, but its (functional, necessary) relationship to the other elements of the artwork. Guy’s disruption of a realist reading of the sculptures once again situates them within a context where their spatial, formal, and material characteristics are brought to the fore.
Natalie Guy is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Fine Arts at the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts. In 2017 she was the inaugural recipient of an Asia NZ Foundation residency in Varanasi, India and in 2018 attended the Bundanon Trust Residency in New South Wales, Australia. In October 2019 Guy will undertake a two-month residency at Sculpture Space in Utica, New York. A regular exhibitor in public exhibitions such as Sculpture on the Gulf and Sculpture on the Shore, Guy’s works can be seen in the public collections of the Waikato Museum and the Wallace Arts Trust, New Zealand, and the Woollahra Council, Sydney, Australia.