15th April – 31st May 2016
I find myself at the interzone of painting and sculpture; my work is a heavy metal cocktail of male fantasies, obsessive and confrontational. It is a chemical haze of alternative sound and vision, religion and politics, conflict and war, tragedy and loss. A crucible of liquid observations and memories which stimulate my pending offering to the uncharted future of art.’ – P. Wager
Dadiani Fine Art are proud to announce that we are showing the work of Paul Wager. An experienced and committed artist whose work is tough and uncompromising and has it’s roots in Constructivism and revolutionary ardour. His work has a seriousness and reality that is refreshing compared to today’s milieu – it may be unfashionable to say this but his work is definitely masculine – it has balls and none the worse for that. His constructed 20 works which use steel armatures are the result of a hands on technique which conjures up thoughts about engineering and maybe of our now almost lost Northern Industrial Heritage; it is relevant that Paul Wager is very much a Northerner. His sculptures are always extraordinarily well crafted and show an informed and sensitive approach to surface and patina. The context of this work shows a challenging and critical mind at work – someone with ‘Weltanschaung’ and doesn’t shrink from expressing his critical view of the status quo through his art.
Foreword by Professor Michael Sandle RA
Paul Wager is one of the very few contemporary artists that I am able to wholeheartedly believe in. I very much admire his technical ability and I admire his commitment and perseverance in making sculpture that doesn’t toe the line of what is considered to be “mainstream” and in the face of living in some isolation . That isolation has been good for his art because there has to be a reason for making art other than climbing up the greasy pole of success that is determined by the Londoncentric Art World of this tight little Isle which is not unlike cultural Stalinism in that the rules are arbitrary but absolute.
I first came across his work when I noticed a large steel sculpture of his which stood out like a beacon of excellence against a backdrop of mostly mediocre work in a sculpture park I happened to be visiting several years ago. When I was on the exhibition’s Committee of the Royal
Academy in 2011 I was able to include two of his bronze sculptures from his masterly series of work about the ‘Great War’ under the rubric “ Reflections in War”.
Many visitors to that sculpture park for years thought rather superficially that these two sculptures were mine because Paul deliberately used architectonic bronze pedestals as a composite of his sculptures as I do, yet this indicated that they didn’t understand what
a plinth or pedestal is for – it may well be that contemporary sculpture has come of off plinths – but plinths have a function that have served sculpture well for Millennia and there is absolutely no reason why a sculptor can’t use them today if he wants to.
The works in bronze from this series are superbly crafted and I find them to be both moving and eloquent. Apart from the use of plinths, a shared concern with conflict and an emotional response to war – particularly the ‘Great War’ – any formal similarity to my work is purely coincidental – for a start Paul Wager consistently makes an extraordinarily convincing use of found objects whereas I very rarely use them.
The only sculpture of his on show in “The Mask of Anarchy” exhibition is “Radix Malorum Est Cupiditasan” and is an example of superb casting by the Pangolin Foundry with an intelligent and sensitive use of patination chosen by Paul. The content shows his critical engagement with the World at large – he doesn’t do lightweight.
His 2D work on show at Dadiani Fine Art are painted constructions based on a metal infra-structure; they are tough and exude seriousness and relate to Paul Wager’s character i.e his steely determination to do it his way – i.e. the hard way. For me, they are very Northern which I think is a sign of integrity – there would be something wrong with his art if it didn’t reflect in some way the environment in which it was produced. This is not the same as being provincial and Paul Wager knows rather a lot about what is going on in the World, something which is evident in the texts – sometimes in Latin – that he segues into his work.
Paul Wager has chosen to live and work in his home town of Hartlepool which because of the North/South divide and because Britain is so London-centric he might as well be living in Uzbekistan and has to be one of the reasons he has never received the acclaim or recognition he so richly deserves. As someone who has lived for almost thirty years in Germany where it doesn’t harm your career where you choose to live I am always appalled by this and it is an additional reason for my championing him on top of his obvious talent, intelligence and total integrity.
Michael Sandle RA
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark
world.” (Ephesians 6:12)