press release

On first looking at John Summers’ sculptures you might be bewildered, amused or even repelled by their hectic surface noise – the glitter, the detritus, the seemingly randomly assembled found objects. But looking deeper you see there is an order and control as sophisticated as any traditional sculptor. The seriousness of these playful works is in their precarious harmonies. Summers excels in the metamorphosis of his materials - retaining the sense of flow and becoming in the works while holding them at a point of minute perfection.

The immediacy of his work is arrived at by continuous adjustment, as though a surgeon were working in emergency/primitive conditions, improvising with materials and instruments from a previous age. This forensic skill relates to the work made for his MA show at the Royal College, which often resembled lumps of prosthetic flesh. This almost Dr Frankenstein impulse has since shifted from animating the merely human to the creation of forms suggesting the birth of something quite unearthly.

In certain recent works diamond and pearlised carapaces crack open, about to spawn a second Liberace, or some other star from the Las Vegas pantheon. There is a constant fluctuation between the idea of undirected forces in the heavens and the deliberate manufacture of glamour in Hollywood‘s own stellar system - created both explosively and consciously.

Since graduating from the Slade in 1999, and the Royal College of Art in 2002, John Summers has exhibited widely in group shows both nationally and internationally, (including Studio 1.1, London 2006, 2007; Hollow, London 2005; NY Armoury Fair 2004; Bloodshot and Brighteyed, Berlin 2004, New Contemporaries 2002, 2003). His work has generated high praise and interest, and has won him several prestigious art awards, including the Deutsche Bank Pyramid Award. The exhibition funded by Mark Tanner Sculpture Award, which Summers won in July 2006, will be his first solo show, and represents an important step in his development as one of the brightest new talents in British sculpture.

The Mark Tanner Sculpture Award is now the largest sculpture prize of its kind in the UK. It is unique in its combination of offering both financial support towards the production of new work and a solo exhibition to an exceptional emerging sculptor. Standpoint will announce the winner of this year’s award at the private view.

Originated in 2001, The Tanner award increased to a total of £10,000 in 2005. £6,000 goes direct to the receiving artist towards the production of new work, and £4,000 funds and promotes the solo exhibition held at Standpoint Gallery the following year. The Tanner award is a partnership project by Standpoint Gallery and the charitable trust set up in memory of the sculptor Mark Tanner, who trained at St Martins and was one of the first artists to show at Standpoint. He died in 1998 after a long illness.

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John Summers
Mark Tanner Sculpture Award Winner 2006/7