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A Flourishing of Sculptures 1979-1983


‘The real struggle is now in full bloom, the struggle with myself and with the wood with all the additions, reductions, changes... It is very important at this stage to keep along with the exactitude of calculation the element of improvisation and even of the absurd.’

Intention and Realisation, Oleg Prokofiev

Henry Moore was the last representative of a traditional line in sculpture, yet for Prokofiev, Moore were less relevant than Alexander Calder. Calder’s mobiles entered into a space, giving it more significance than it being simply becoming a part of solid mass. Prokofiev considered this idea as fundamental to understanding the basic principles of Twentieth century sculpture, also admiring work by David Smith and Anthony Caro who worked these ideas in metal. Excited by his recent move out of the limits of flat canvas, Prokofiev found that the old problem of how to represent depth in two-dimensions vanished.

Using found objects such as small squashed tins, broken chair legs or pieces of machinery, he developed a magpie obsession over the accidental treasures found on the street. Frustrated by his lack of D.I.Y skills, he was delighted to discover the hot glue gun- a bad moment for many of his constructions which have since needed some serious repair. His foray into using aluminium added a more rarefied character, giving a sense of openness rather than mass and volume. He soon, however, found metal and wood to be ‘bad allies’- metal had an inherent alien coldness to it whilst wood was warmer, more charming.

The crucial point in the creative process frequently came after despairing that his structure was not what he intended, or had first imagined. Once he even dropped a piece he was working on, breaking it. He writes that after recovering from his ‘regrets’, he reshuffled the fragments until he found at the end exactly what he was looking for. These labours in the dark gave no thought to his original idea, having to relinquish it in the process of finding it again. During these beginnings he produced some 200 works, in his efforts to develop ideas and solve problems.

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