5 Dec 2011

Turner Prize 2011: Martin Boyce

Martin Boyce’s work creates atmospheric, sculptural art inspired by modernist design history, which it often directly quotes, writes Matthew Cain.

Turner Prize 2011: Martin Boyce

Boyce creates large-scale, site-specific installations but his work provokes quite a different response.

Combining elements of the urban landscape with interior design and references to the legacy of modernism, his faded dreamscapes such as the one in this show can lead to a sense of disorientation or displacement.

For me, the autumnal leaves scattered on the floor evoke powerful feelings of abandonment or melancholy. And I was fascinated to hear the artist’s own description of his work as walking a tightrope between the hard textures of the urban built environment and something which leans towards the more poetic.

George Shaw Hilary Lloyd Martin Boyce Karla Black

One critic called it “a kind of faded dreamscape that resembles in turn a drained pool, an abandoned garden or park, and an empty aviary”. Many more commented on the sense of sorrow or melancholy it evoked.

The heavy and often brutal materials used to create it might, in the hands of another artist, have produced much less subtle work – and an all-too-predictable nostalgia. But Boyce managed instead to suggest a multi-layered sense of decay, detachment and abandonment.

He himself described the work as “a peculiar landscape: a collapse of the interior and the exterior world”.