Cristina Iglesias has made a public space of a private gallery, creating a piazza ambience behind closed doors.

With the installation of three water sculptures seemingly ‘dropped’ into the floor of Marian Goodman’s space in Soho, London, the artist suggests the forces of nature breaking through the facade of city structures.

Exposing tangled tree roots washed by the flow of a subterranean stream, the linked pieces form part of Phreatic Zones, the artist’s first London exhibition since 2003. Inset in a custom slate floor that tilts toward the gallery entrance, the three recesses housing the sculptures have been rendered in slim trapezoid shapes that angle toward the adjacent public space of Golden Square.

Iglesias regularly works in collaboration with architecture practices, including Renzo Piano – with whom she is developing large-scale works for the Fundación Botín in Spain – and Foster + Partners in the UK.

As an artist, she describes her role in such projects as ‘opportunities to deal with problems – for example creating a barrier that is at the same time a gathering place.’

Detail of ‘Pozo XI (in and around the walls) (Version 2)’, 2014 by Cristina Iglesias (c). Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery
Installation view of Phreatic Zone, 2015 by Cristina Iglesias (c). Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery

Alongside the inevitable rules and regulations, these public projects also bring with them the troublesome issue of maintenance. Iglesias however embraces a certain degree of metamorphosis in her work, perhaps most dramatically apparent in her underwater sculpture in Baja California which is now ‘full of life and becoming a reef‘.

‘Metal is alive,’ she says, ‘and if you add water it is even more alive. I like these changes, and even dirt to a certain extent.’

Formally linked to Tres Aguas, Iglesias’s large-scale 2014 Artangel commission for the city of Toledo, Phreatic Zones likewise comprises three elements – the shallow water sculptures, a ‘well’, and a group of working studies showing photographed maquettes overlayed with the artist’s sketches and alterations.

In the Toledo project, these three elements were inspired by the co-existence of different cultures within a city, all united by their need for water.

Cristina Iglesias, ‘Phreatic Zones’ is at Marian Goodman Gallery, London, 30 October – 19 December



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