20:50 Is the work of renowned British Sculptor Richard Wilson. I had never heard of him until I decided to take a quick trip to MONA in Hobart as a reconnoissance before this years DarkMofo. After seeing this piece of work in situ at MONA, I thought there might be a story behind this interesting piece of sculpture. So I decided to start looking firstly at the sculptor and secondly at the circumstances surrounding the work ending up at The Museum Of Old And New Art in Hobart.

The work is fascinating, its a story about sump oil! WTF I hear you say, how does anyone make an art piece or sculpture from sump oil?

It works like this, the gallery is filled to waist height with recycled engine oil, from which the piece takes its name. A walk way leads from a single entrance, leading the viewer into the space until they are surrounded by oil on all sides. The impenetrable, reflective surface of the oil mirrors the architecture of the room exactly, placing the viewer at the mid-point of a symmetrical visual plane.

From above the visual effect is striking, the smell of sump oil is there, this is truly an amazing piece of sculpture and worth a look. It is the perfect companion with other works by James Turrell, Charles Ross recently commissioned to provide new installations at MONA. 20:50 has a niche within the museum’s featured themes framed around large scale art installations focused on light, form and mythology.

The story behind this piece now owned by David Walsh is interesting. He bought the work from Charles Saatchi the British Iraqi owner of Advertising giant Saatci and Saatchi. He bought a few pieces from him, a Jenny Saville, Chris Ofili and Damien Hirst. He promptly put them on the walls at MONA and by his own admission some loved them and some hated them. He then sold them for a lot more money and purchased Richard Wilsons work 20:50 from Saatchi, but admits Richard Wilson wishes he didn’t have it.

Interesting, however we are pleased he owns it and Walsh has found a place for it at the Museum Of Old and New Art, it’s a perfect fit.

Richard Wilsons work can be seen here : http://richardwilsonsculptor.com/sculpture/2050.html

Mike Briggs, MONA, Hobart June 2019


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