Jim Lambie ‘Metal Urbain’

Jim Lambie, Beggars Banquet (All Knight Long), 2010, Suit of armour crushed with steel trays, brass & copper plates set in concrete block, polished steel plinth, 135 x 48 x 32 cm
The Modern Institute, 14–20 Osborne Street, Glasgow

The Modern Institute is pleased to announce the exhibition of new work by Jim Lambie, Metal Urbain*. This is the inaugural exhibition in the new gallery space at 14-20 Osborne Street.

In the main gallery space seven suits of Knights’ armour sit upon concrete and metal plinths that rise up out of the floor like platforms. Each suit has either been crushed alone or with household objects — cookers, coffee tables, ladders and a filing cabinet have all been used. The combinations suggest abstract relationships: the crushed cookers are like speakers, the work is called KnightClub. The combination of the filing cabinet and knight is called Knight Shift. Each of the sculptures contains its own microenvironment — a night vision. Knight Light, a central sculpture in the exhibition illuminates this world — and the visions it contains.

On the walls a series of metal paintings hang like constellations, like stars across a night sky. The peeled aluminium sheets have all been bent by hand. Like peeling billboard posters they suggest other realities hidden beneath them, expanding into other places beyond, like an inner world.

The space on which we walk is a metal floor work, which recalls minimalist sculpture such as works by Carl Andre or Donald Judd. Made from metals in various finishes, it’s like a set of stepping-stones. The polished metals reflect the sculptures and sky like puddles, photographic moments in the urban stroll. The final work we encounter is entitled Metal Urbain, a combination of folded metal sheets which form plinths on top which are dismembered elements of a suit of armour cast into concrete. It is here that the disjointed rhythms of Metal Urbain can be recalled and the reality of the exhibition space and the outside world meet — the city outside and Metal Urbain, a vision of knights and nighttimes.

  • Metal Urbain were the first band to be signed to Rough Trade Records in 1976. They relied on heavily distorted guitars and replaced the traditional rock rhythm section of bass guitar/drums with a synthesizer and drum machine, a then-unique approach that foreshadowed the experimental possibilities that were explored by later post-punk bands. Influential on such bands as The Jesus and Marychain they were key figures of the 1970’s post punk French scene. Their 1985 cover for the album Metal Urbain featured the figure of a knight in a suit of Armor — an abstracted figure that represented the heavy metallic distortion of the music they performed.