Antony Gormley's Bearing Light (1991) print portfolio showcases a series of luminous and ethereal artworks. Through his exploration of light and shadow, Gormley invites viewers to contemplate the human form and its connection to the surrounding environment.

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Meaning & Analysis

Antony Gormley's 1991 Bearing Light print portfolio takes viewers on an enchanting journey through a series of otherworldly artworks as Gormley explores light, form, and the human figure. The Bearing Light portfolio showcases Gormley's meticulous attention to the interplay between light and shadow, as each of the twelve artworks takes the form of a solid, silhouetted shape, executed in the medium of woodcut. Gormley's bold prints, in this instance, reduce the human form to a series of iconic, almost hieroglyphic, forms, placing them alongside other prints of simple shapes, and thus invite viewers into an almost religious contemplation of the beauty and complexity of the human form and life.

At the heart of the portfolio lies Gormley's fascination with the human figure. Of the twelve works in Bearing Light, five present a silhouette of human form: a baby, a hand, a torso, a head and a pair of eyes. The boldness of the woodcut offers a uniquely mesmerising perspective on the body, capturing its expressive potential by reducing it to the simplest version of its elements. Through his exploration of form, Gormley prompts viewers to reflect on their own physical existence, inviting introspection and an appreciation for the inherent beauty of the human form. When it comes to the non-human forms represented in Bearing Light, the shapes - an archway, an arched window, a smaller and larger rectangle, and a cross shape - they have the appearance of building blocks, elevating the portfolio to a contemplation of matter itself, the architecture of the cosmos.

While the visual impact of the portfolio is striking, its deeper significance lies in its exploration of the human condition. Gormley's artworks challenge viewers to consider the complexities of our existence, the interplay between body and soul, and the ever-changing nature of our identities. Gormley's artworks in Bearing Light possess a transcendent quality, evoking a sense of spirituality and transcendence. The interplay between positive and negative space, or light and shadow, creates a dialogue between the physical and the ethereal, prompting contemplation of our place in the universe. Gormley invites viewers to ponder the boundaries of our human body, our earthly existence, and our connection to the vastness of the cosmos.

Bearing Light serves as a testament to Gormley's ability to engage viewers through a harmonious synthesis of light, form, and human emotion. The portfolio celebrates the transformative power of art, offering a space for contemplation and introspection. Gormley's artworks in Bearing Light invite viewers to embrace the sublime and connect with the universal human experience. Through his skilled craftsmanship and deep understanding of visual aesthetics, Gormley creates an enchanting world that encourages viewers to contemplate the beauty and complexity of our existence. This portfolio serves as a reminder of the profound impact that art can have on our perception of self, light, and the world around us.

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