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Arnolfini presents an exhibition with new works by Michael Dean. Dean, born 1977 in Newcastle upon Tyne, is one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists in Britain, working with sculpture, photography and drawing.

Michael Dean’s works are often made from cast concrete or other industrial materials and seek a direct physical relationship with the human body. Their rough but delicate surfaces, and sometimes monumental scale, invite touch and relate to the immediate architectural background. His sculptural works evolve from his extensive writing; and many of his works are remodelled words in the artist’s own three-dimensional fonts and are accompanied by short, poetic texts. Exploring the transmutation of language, from the word to its graphical representation and its reading, Dean’s work marks the different relationships between ideas and material form. The sculptures keep a careful balance between an autonomous presence and their quality as media of communication.

Dean employs the subtle material quality of concrete; a material which, though impenetrable, absorbs and reflects its environment with traces and stains, from rust marks left by metal fixings to the tide of discolouration made by a dripping pipe. It remains porous when hard, so absorbs oils from human skin, and some of Dean’s works have an uncannily familiar organic appearance – like elephant skin, or some fossilised ancient material.

The works are often produced in close consideration to their environment of display, and Dean uses the exhibition space to create interaction between different elements and media. In his recent exhibitions, Dean created reduced architectural settings for his sculptures, such as boxes or chairs and tables, built from MDF. For the exhibition at Arnolfini, the artist has created a new sculptural installation.

Exhibition tours

Every Saturday, 2pm, free

The free tours of our galleries are led by a member of staff, or an invited guest – an artist, writer, or curator – and are a chance to hear the personal interpretations and insights of the tour leader, learn more about the work on show, and task any questions you may have about the exhibition. All welcome.

Share your pictures and comments @arnolfiniarts #MichaelDean 

Download the Exhibition Guide here 

Download the Family Activity Guide here

Reading Room Resources: Download the reading list for the current exhibitions here.