Image: Spread from Ambit, issue 215, 2014.
Survey of Philip King's work for the magazine Ambit issue 215, 2014
In the 1960s Phillip King created a number of sculptures that were cone shaped. Not a series per se, but a distinct typology. Within works such as, Rosebud (1962), Genghis Khan (1963) and Through (1965) the cone was invariable sliced, adorned, sheathed or amended. They were often constructed in plastic – what at the time was referred to as a 'new material' – and coloured. The colours are not those of nature (even the pink on Rosebud is not the colour of skin but is nonetheless suggestive of flesh). But neither are the colours the saturated hues of pop Americana, rather the tones are somewhat muted, the timbre is a more louche sort of pop. For King “using plastic … makes you concentrate on the nature of the surface of an object more than what is behind that surface i.e. the material. The surface of marble makes you conscious of the marble … but the surface of resin leaves you with very little interest in finding out the nature of the resin”1 This attention to surface as surface understands it as an effect, a conspiring of colour and materiality. And in concert with the form, these sculptures are redolent in reference but stoically retain an ambiguity. Returning to Rosebud, its surface is incised with an arabesque that is suggestive of the blossoming of its title but it also eludes to a typographical mark, a literal bracketing of the surface. The surface is set apart, and through this cut we can see an interior, surface gives way to structure, and materiality is made conspicuous...