Tony Cragg “I am not a conceptual artist, I am not throwing the things in the wall to see what will happen”


Interview taken in 2017.

Tony Cragg “I am not a conceptual artist, I am not throwing the things in the wall to see what will happen”

Just recently Tony Cragg celebrated his 67-anniversary but in spite of the age the artist is full of energy, inspiration and plans for the future. His solo show is now on in Hermitage in Saint Petersburg and the retrospective exhibition was opened a few days ago in Wuppertal. I met with Tony Cragg in Kempiski hotel where he had lunch with his old friend and gallerist Hans Knoll, who opened the artist for Russia, and speak about life, art and future plans.  

How do you select the works for the show? Are they done for specially for the show?

I don’t do sight-specific works as this has no interest for me and I never modify anything in connection to the exterior. But I do belief that the most important thing in the museum exhibition is to engage public into the works. For this I am trying to mix older works from 80s to the present ones. So the viewer can watch the evolution of the works and be involved in the process. I want to give people a complete story of who I am and what is the content of the works is.

There is an idea that the most important for the exhibition is the impression. You can forget everything but the impression is what you will keep. What do you think about it?

I might not use the word impression in the terms you do but I feel what you mean. I am influenced by nature and the dynamic energy it has. Forms of things are created by inner forces and courses and that is the impression I want to share. I am not a conceptual artist, I am not an artist who throws things into the wall and watches the effect. What is really interesting for me is that everything we see is the light touches the surface and comes into our eyes. We look at our faces and see the forms and we always interpreting the form but we don’t want to know what is behind the face, what are the forces behind the things we see. And we have psychological pressure on our interpretation. But everything we see is the result of the incredibly complicated internal forces which are enlighten by the Sun in the sky. And that interest exists from the ancient Greek sculptures. The sculpture was always about the way of reading the values behind the form.

What do you think what is the art now? And the sculpture if to be more precise?

The art fro me is about finding the forms which are brining the emotions. We always pride ourselves that everything we do depends on our intelligence. But let’s ask what decisions we make are based on the intelligence? Most of the decisions we make are emotional ones: what we eat, how we are dressed, how we move, posing, where we are and what we see. There is no logic behind it. And when you see the person you immediately feel the inner material of this person because of our emotional expertise, how you feel each other. You immediately expertise the mental and physical effect on you. And it works for all materials. Sculpture is not about copying a figure anymore, it is a study of material world, how the material and material forms are effect us. And this is extremely important I think.

Do you think that the world will be better if we accept the fact that most of our decisions not logical but emotional?

No, I think science is super important as it is the best observation thing we have. But art is not science. And science has no sense without art. Science can speak about cells in our body or that the gravity has been proved. But what do you feel with it – nothing. What if someone will just simply smile to you? It can mean much more than knowing that gravity is a weigh form. I think that is why these two things were together. Art without science and science without art is a waste of time.

What do you think: should the art be a political activity or should it avoid these topics?

Art for me is a political activity and it is very radical and rare. We …