Formally untrained in art, Chadwick’s approach to making and design was grounded in his early career as an architectural draftsperson. He began his artistic practice after World War II, during which he served as a pilot. From the late 1940s his work expanded significantly in scale and saw him develop his unique style, one that he has referred to as “drawing with steel rods”. His work was included in an exhibition of eight English sculptors in the 1952 Venice Biennale, and is considered to be part of his generation’s humanist, post-war response to Cold War global politics and existential issues. The second half of the century saw him steadily become one of the most important British sculptors of the twentieth century. He is considered to be the successor of Henry Moore (whose Reclining figure can be seen in AGWA Modern on this floor) and the predecessor of Antony Gormley, whose works are place in the entry of the Gallery.
This work was made after Chadwick had taken a break from making works in steel and shows a refreshed passion for the material and the processes of construction. The two people, perhaps a man on the left and a woman on the right, therefore, foreground the flat sheets of steel. The couple, while sitting side by side, are entirely separate entities, occupying their own space and staring, one imagines, into their own worlds and their own distinct futures. Its study of the human condition of isolation even when with others, is lightened, however, by the playful way the figures come into being through the planes of steel; they are almost like origami.