Guy Reid sculpture limewood

Anthony Lin writes an Introduction to Devotion at the Coningsby Gallery

In all of Guy Reid's works, the human psyche is invariably drawn with meticulous care in a perturbing environment of slightly distorted perspectives. His assortment of real characters all appear to look, not at the viewer, but at a more complex dimension filled with intensely personalized concerns which at once make our own physical world seem illusory and inconsequential.

The most revealing of these involve Andrew, the artist's long-time partner carved in relief, in the round, lying prone, shown in full upright figure, half-bodied, or as busts in a rich series of highly intimate portraits. He is often seen in uncomfortable postures, twisting and turning on either side. In bust form, he simply looks, with a worrisome gaze beyond you, below you, or at a space seemingly behind you.

In these intense portrayals, the sculptor's mastery of Gothic and Renaissance imagery plays out expressively, with a hint of anguish never far away within the contained, finished surfaces of tactile lime wood. Each image refers to a state of emotion and disquiet which call to mind imploring disciples or suffering gods from another sphere of spiritual order which is clearly of little relevance to this gallery of real people. The distortion of relief against rounded works tricks the eye repeatedly, accentuating the artist's manipulation of perspectives and the onlooker's impressions.


 The viewer is quickly brought to the next stage, to puzzle and ponder on the inner and external worlds these characters inhabit. What dramas have been played out in the webs of their lives? The mask-like heads throw out questions at us about our lives, even as we wonder at the serene textures and soothing bleached tones of the material and the plasticity of each conception.


 Ultimately, whether we are led or persuaded by the artist is immaterial. We have already been drawn inexorably into the inner lives of others through a psychical looking glass with compelling reflections.

Anthony Lin is a pre-eminent Asian art expert and fine art dealer working out of Hong Kong. He is the ex-chairman of Christies Asia and ex-chairman of the Society of London Art Dealers.