Surprising Sensorial Illusion

Praeteritum, Praesens et Futurum, a solo show of Rowan Mersh, will be presented this May by Gallery FUMI in Shoreditch, London. It will contain a collection that encompasses Mersh’s works over the past five years, including the recent works Pithvava Praegressus and Asabikeshiin II. “Praeteritum, Praesens et Futurum – Latin for past, present and future,” said the sculptor “is a moment of reflection on my practice to move towards the future. I feel it is important to reflect upon my previous works in order to move beyond the logical order of progression creatively. This collection of new works represents critical sculptural moments from both my past and present while anticipating unexplored territories.”

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Mersh is a multimedia sculptor who explores forms through intuitive application of a material’s inherent qualities, creating a particular aesthetic that is utterly his. From textile sculpture to kinetic and interactive installation, the pieces are inventive, built with experimental approaches that transform the everyday and ordinary into the extraordinary. Since 2012, the artist has predominantly worked with responsibly sourced materials, generally comprising Dentalium, Turritella and Windowpane Oyster shells with all their natural variation and idiosyncrasy, painstakingly hand-assembled into mesmerizing patterns. “I am drawn to the humble seashell as a medium of expression both for my fascination with aspects of their historical, social, and contextual functions, and for the inherent beauty that can be found within the material itself, ” explained Mersh.

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The labor intensive process of positioning the many thousands of individual components with precision, one piece at a time, results in graceful compositions with delicate allure, inviting and intriguing at equal measure. From a distance, they display the impression of pleasing feathery formation that calls the viewer closer and closer, with hands yearning to touch. And on closer inspection, the intricate arrangement reveals itself as solid shells having undergone various manual manipulations, emerging as solid sculpture that is no less delicate than its individual parts, delivered by the artist’s unique and dedicated vision in unlocking the creative power of these strange components.

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Regularly exhibiting internationally with Gallery FUMI, Mersh’s sculptures have been acquired by major private and public collections from all over the world, most notably the V&A, Jerwood and The Crafts Council collections. His commissions and special projects include works for the Mercury Music Prize, Fendi and Veuve Clicquot. Mersh, a graduate of the Royal College of Art who became an artist to better understand himself, continues to live and work in London.

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