Matthew Darbyshire at Herald St, London

7 February 2014 By

Figurative sculpture is having a bit of a moment in 2014, with a potential peak due in June when the Hayward Gallery opens its thematic summer show The Human Form, curated by director Ralph Rugoff. Simon Fujiwara’s work Rebekkah (2013) – a very recent purchase by the new Collections Committee at the Contemporary Art Society – will be on show in Leeds before then in a new sculpture display at the art gallery which will take a fresh look at the figurative sculpture in their very distinguished collections. Jake and Dinos Chapman close at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery this weekend.

So it is in this context that we approach Matthew Darbyshire’s latest show at Herald St. Gone are the Ikea-bright colours that characterised his work a few years ago, but the interest in the visual language of commerce and interior décor remain. Using the white polystyrene familiar from the packaging of TVs, fridges and other gadgets, in a tongue-in-cheek approximation of the marble of classical sculpture, Darbyshire presents us with slender female nudes, cool cats and a Hercules hewn from the living polymer. Instead of colour-coded room sets reminiscent of furniture stores, Darbyshire evokes the domestic with some very elegant but down-home wooden rockers and armchairs, accessorised with large-scale framed adverts for cat food and Andrex. The ad for IMAX cinemas that urges us to “Feel More” is the key here: begoggled figures making the link between looking and feeling, exposing the visual triggers for emotional/intellectual responses that are inherent in different materials.

If you’re braving the weather to see shows this weekend, make sure this one is on your list.

Caroline Douglas



Matthew Darbyshire, Bureau, 2 Herald Street, London E2 6JT. Open Wednesday – Friday 11.00 – 18.00, Saturday – Sunday 12.00 – 18.00, until 16 March.