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Issue 3, Commerce, 2013.

Financial Muscle - The Work of Richard Galpin

By Robert Wilson

The source material for these works by Richard Galpin, whose studio until recently was located in the shadow of the Shard, are photographs of the vast construction projects, and glossy, gridded façades of the towers of finance still rising in and around the City of London. Galpin scores these photographs, cutting and selectively peeling back the emulsion surface to strip and reformulate the cool, sleek surfaces of these banking behemoths, revealing other structures and networks that seem to underlie them. 

His imagery in the works, fragments of ecto-skeleton morphing into endo-skeleton, delineates both space and structure, appearing not to be just of ‘the skull beneath the skin’ – the bones and bracing – but also of a hot-wired meshing of sinews and nerve-endings. There is a mixture of energy and raw power and yet intricacy and fragility here that seems something between steel girders and Spillikins.

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The sense of movement and change in the works, of being both under construction and fissuring apart, references and echoes the mechanistic imagery of early twentieth works, such as the Vorticist paintings of Wyndham Lewis or Iakov Chernikhov's celebrated architectural fantasies from early Soviet Russia, but suggests also at the complexities found in the later 20th century architectural projects and capriccios of Constant Nieuwenhuy and Lebbeus Woods.

It is this sense of both a becoming and an undoing: a mixture of optimism, of the joy of making, of the constructed image in the tradition of the architectural capriccio, but also of emptiness – of the scraping under to reveal just the void – that gives the works their strange resonance.