Conrad Hicks’ solo exhibition, Implement, is the culmination of an intuitive quest for beauty that the artist traces back to the origins of humankind. The new collection of hand-forged metal furniture and sculpture ripples with a primal energy, captured in the hammered marks and biomorphic forms that define the Cape Town blacksmith’s oeuvre.
Hicks’ work is extremely labour-intensive, necessitating a physicality through which he channels his subconscious. He often doesn’t know what his forms will be until he starts working with the material and using his hands. In the process of cutting, pressing, heating, hammering and stretching metal, he discovers an archetypal language that calls to mind ancient art forms. Through this he draws a correlation between his process and what drove the earliest tool-makers throughout history: “It is the pursuit of beauty, not technology, that has driven our evolution as humans. That beauty that we pursue is actually an engineering choice, intuitively made.”
Hicks’ sculptural practice has developed in parallel with his work as a maker of utilitarian implements such as knives, pans and blacksmithing tools, and some of these implements form part of the exhibition, recreating aspects of the artist’s studio inside the gallery.