Featuring drawings, paintings, glasswork in the first London showing of his large installation, Nicholas Pope: Sins and Virtues opens on the 15th of September in The Sunday Painter gallery. With an examination of spirituality and man-made belief systems, the sculptor ties Christian worldview to broader concerns that plague modern societies.

nicholas pope sins and virtues
Image: Installation view of The Conundrum of the Chalices of the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Virtues by Nicholas Pope, courtesy the artist and The Sunday Painter, photography by Stephen White

A part of Caro’s school of sculpture, Nicholas Pope made a name for himself in the Seventies by creating large-scale sculptures made of wood, metal, stone, sheet lead or chalk. His work is owned by such cultural institutions as Guggenheim and the Rijksmuseum Kroller Muller, and he represented Britain at the 1980 Venice Biennale. In the following decade, he spent time in Zimbabwe and Tanzania. But what changed his interests as an artist was contracting an illness that turned him to different materials glass, porcelain, aluminium and ceramics that helped him express his perception of suicide, belief and society. His exhibition Nicholas Pope: The Apostles Speaking in Tongues at Tate Britain in 1996 focused on these themes, and they remain at the core of his newest exhibition.

Placed on a large glass shelf and suspended from above, The Conundrum of the Chalices of the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Virtues combines fourteen glass chalices paired with corresponding abstract drawings in oil bar pastels. Connecting to the Christian tradition, seven deadly sins and seven virtues, the artist created a visual representation for pride, lust, envy, avarice, gluttony, sloth and wrath, opposing them with analogies to prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope and charity. The installation that pairs works on paper with glass is Pope’s collaboration with James Maskrey from the National Glass Centre.

The display follows through with the artist’s fascination with belief systems. His previous works include Ten Commandment Pots, with each commandment inscribed on their terracotta surface. The artwork began the career-long fascination with the construct of morality that he further connected with the notions used to describe the quality of artworks. His drawings from that early period (The Oratory of Heavenly Space, Motorway Service Station of the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Virtues, Oblivion Recycling Plant à la Ledoux or A Section ‘106’ Regeneration Project) will also be displayed as a selection of public service works that represent his interest in worship space, earthly delight and oblivion.

Nicholas Pope: Sins and Virtues, The Sunday Painter, 117-119 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1XA. 15 September – 3 November 2018. Opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12.00 – 6.00 pm

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