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Chinese artist Wallace Chan will showcase 10 of his large-scale titanium and iron sculptures for his exhibition “Titans: A dialogue between materials, space, and time”.

Located at the vast lobby of the One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, the exhibition will run from 14 February to 8 April.

The exhibition, curated by James Putnam, explores Chan’s exploration of the relationship between materials, space, and time through titanium, a space-age material that has long been the subject of his experimental impulses.

Oxidised iron contrasts the titanium’s polished silver surface to evoke the passage of time: iron will eventually rust away while titanium can last for eternity.

On display will be three brand new works: Titans XIV, Titans XV and Titans XVI. The central motif of many of these semi-figurative sculptures is a colossal head whose facial features are serene yet strong.

One of the new works, Titans XIV, is a five-metre-high monolithic sculpture and will be situated at the fountain in Cabot Square, in the foreground of One Canada Square alongside the work of sculptors Henry Moore and Lynn Chadwick.

Time capsules

Wallace Chan said, “The large-scale titanium sculptures come from a lifetime of memories and experiences, including my early years creating carvings and sculptures inspired by Greek mythology. Titans, named after a group of super-strong giants, connects my present to my past. The series also acts as a passage to the future; carved and sculpted with a material as strong and resistant as titanium, my sculptures act as time capsules.”

Curator and writer James Putnam says, “The verticality of the sculpture’s elongated multi-tiered silver face creates a fitting dialogue with the 50-story steel clad skyscraper that rises behind it on the London skyline. By juxtaposing two very different sculptural materials, Chan evokes a sense of duality, where the lightness and durability of titanium is contrasted with iron’s weightiness and susceptibility to corrosion.”

As a jewellery apprentice at aged 16, Wallace Chan used opaque stones such as malachite, jade and coral as his materials. He learnt the art of Western sculpture by visiting Christian cemeteries and admiring the sculptures of saints and angels.

Titanium, named after the immortal ‘Titans’ in Greek mythology, is the strongest, most durable and lightweight metal. Mainly used in the aerospace industry, titanium has been overlooked by artists due to its cost and complex production process.

Chan developed a method of working with titanium initially for his jewellery and more recently for his large-scale sculptures. Today he employs a range of sculpture techniques: from modelling and casting to carving, welding, and assembling.

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