The Tread and The Rise presents a large-scale installation of a new series of works by Toby Christian, developing the artists’ interest in the use of writing as a form of expanded sculpture.
The largely site-specific texts Christian produces describe the relationships of objects and spaces in fine detail, occasionally co-opting specialist terminologies from a wide range of fields to provide sketches of provenance. These descriptions may obscure their subjects, through varying degrees of hermetic inference, which makes use of analysis, estimation, proposition, and pedantry.
His written compositions use analysis of objects and their contents through to suggest an underlying associative narrative, through the description of resonating materialities. Visitors are able to remove texts from Christian’s installations, which use architectural elements related to the written content to anchor the text to the space. These act as partitions and pedestals, walls made to be navigated and sat on, as places to read. The works within The Tread and the Rise are a progression of the ideas formed through these installations.
The title of this exhibition is a borrowed phrase usually used by staircase manufacturers and architects to determine the horizontal (the tread) and vertical (the rise) proportion of a step. The title appears in the form of a digital animation as an illuminated sign, flickering and blinking to relay alternate messages. In its unedited form, it is used in reference to the sense of vertical elevation and aerial vantage point that pertains to the exhibition.
Central to The Tread and The Rise is a large scale installation titled Digs (2013), made with partitions of various heights to recreate the floor plan of the artists’ home in London, based on life-size dimensions. The installation is surrounded by a series of large-scale wall mounted panels made using chalk, string, water, oil and paint, evolved from improvised blackboards used in the artist’s studio.
Located within the framework of this house are a series of enigmatic sculptures comprised of an amalgamation of newspaper, blank pages, receipts, personal correspondence and printed copies of the artists’ written works, with any textual information shredded, compressed and reconfigured to create relief-like models that have the appearance of cast concrete.
Like elementary architectural models of variable scales, these sculptures also resemble the fragmented walls exhumed through archaeological excavation; remnants of spaces emptied of content. But these proposed perimeters made from now illegible material collectively insinuate legible characters of their own. As such the works that constitute The Tread and the Rise suggest improvised places, incorporating found and invented text, foraged, reprocessed and unearthed.
Toby Christian graduated from the Royal Academy Schools, London in 2012, receiving the Gold Medal. He was included in Frieze magazine’s Emerging Artists feature, and was recently listed in the international survey 24 Artists to Watch feature in Modern Painters magazine. Recent exhibitions/projects include An Arrangement in White, XO Gallery, Leeds (UK) (2013), Unseen Blows, Seventeen, London (2012) and The Lounge, The Book, The Routine, Waterstones Piccadilly, London (reading) (2012). His writing is selected for inclusion in Volume 16 of the 2HB journal, published by CCA Glasgow, and his book, titled Measures, will be published in 2013. Toby Christian (born Lincolnshire, UK, 1983) lives and works