Bill Bollinger worked with industrial materials to explore balance and form, and the Fruitmarket Gallery’s latest exhibition highlights the radical nature of his work. Bringing together both sculpture and drawing, it presents an overview of the artist’s oeuvre, the first of its kind in over 40 years.
Bollinger’s use of unconventional materials is startlingly clear. On entering the gallery, the viewer immediately encounters a chain-link fence spread on the gallery wall, demonstrating Bollinger’s ability to turn an industrial material into an arresting piece of art. Throughout the exhibition there is an interest in levelling and line, exemplified by the horizontal aluminium bars that capture a horizon and seem to move beyond the confines of the gallery wall. Different sculptural forms are scattered across the space, with light bulbs and water-filled rubber hoses placed on the floor and rope dangling from the ceiling, leaving the viewer to haphazardly navigate around the work.
The artist’s experimentation with materials is masterly presented by the dominance of two key works in the upper gallery; Cyclone Fence, a large chain link fence distorted on the gallery floor and Rope Piece, which pulls three ropes in the shape of the Volkswagen logo, depending on perspective. What is most clear about these works is the artist’s refusal to be categorised, as they cannot be clearly defined in relation to an art movement or specific form. Instead, what this exhibition shows is the mystery in Bollinger’s work and the radical experimentation of the 1960s artist, which continues to be challenging and progressive even today.