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Rafael Pérez Evans: Handful

18 May – 29 August 2021

Release date: Thursday, 11 March 2021

    Kara Chatten

    • By Kara Chatten
    • Henry Moore Institute
    • Marketing & Communications Manager (Leeds)

    The Henry Moore Institute is delighted to announce Handful, artist Rafael Pérez Evans’ first solo exhibition in the UK.

    • The exhibition will respond to the relationships between consumers and food producers by bringing the rural into an urban space
    • Handful will include a new sculpture which will be installed outside the Henry Moore Institute in the centre of Leeds
    • This free exhibition will open from 18 May 2021, government restrictions permitting

    Pérez Evans’ temporary sculptures made using grain, vegetables and other foodstuffs draw upon legacies of 1960s sculpture, Land Art and acts of social protest. They make visible the ever-increasing distance between the consumers and the producers of food. For his exhibition in Leeds, Pérez Evans will make three new works, including a monumental sculpture to be installed outside the Institute’s iconic building. Works inside the gallery explore the tension between basic human need and overproduction in agriculture.

    Farming has become all but invisible to the city. From light pollution (planting crops ‘by the Moon’ has all but ceased) and industrialisation, to globalisation and the processes of late capitalism, the causes of the gap between the consumers and the producers of food are plentiful. Pérez Evans, whose family in Spain have been farmers for generations, recalls the BBC’s ‘spaghetti-tree’ hoax of 1957 as an example of how we have become “food blind, plant blind and food-production blind.” Food is now as much a commodity as any other, its production and distribution entangled in a web of global economics that has long given rise to mass surpluses. Yet even the ‘grain-mountains’, ‘butter-mountains’ and ‘milk-lakes’ that have been common talking points since the 1970s in the wake of government interventionism, for most, exist only as imagined and distant ‘landscapes’.

    Redressing this invisibility, Pérez Evans will install Mountain 2021, two full-sized grain silos outside the Henry Moore Institute. Their stark, functional, yet also highly sculptural forms give immediate human scale to industrial food production. In contrast Handful 2021, a simple wooden shelf inside the Institute, carries just one handful of grain: “I'm thinking about our tender bodies, our stomachs, our mouths…how much ‘fuel’ we really need, what fits in our hands and stomachs.”

    A spirit of protest is never far from Pérez Evans’ work. As a child in a farming community in Spain the artist witnessed vast quantities of lemons being dumped in demonstrations against their devaluation according to market forces. He has followed similar gestures since, repeated throughout that country with foodstuffs from tomatoes to milk being dropped and spilled; visual disturbances that articulated farmers’ anger and frustration to politicians more potently than words. This unique language of protest through produce demonstrates the sculptural and poetic potential of food, something that Pérez Evans explores throughout his work. For Lake 2021, Pérez Evans will flood one of the Institute's former domestic spaces with milk, a gesture that recalls the aftermath of such uprisings.

    “Understandings of fundamental human need have been thrown into focus throughout the crises of the past year. With the exhibition Handful, Rafael Pérez Evans continues his response to this concern, using basic food stuffs in his sculptures to recognise the widening division between production and consumption and between urban and rural communities. His unique sculptural language demands that we pause and interrogate our relationship to food and its chain of production, a system that we often become blind to despite our reliance upon agricultural workers. Building upon a broad history of sculpture, Pérez Evans is an exciting new voice who we are proud to collaborate with as we welcome visitors back to Henry Moore Institute this spring.”

    Laurence Sillars, Head of the Henry Moore Institute

    Rafael Pérez Evans: Handful is presented at the Henry Moore Institute with the collaboration of the Instituto Cervantes London. 

    For further information, images or to arrange a visit please contact:

    Kara Chatten, Marketing and Communications Manager
    Henry Moore Institute

    Emily Dodgson, Head of Marketing and Communications
    Henry Moore Foundation

    Fiona Russell, Senior Account Director

    Notes to Editors

    About the artist

    Rafael Pérez Evans lives and works in London. He is the recipient of the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Beckett University scholarship in partnership with New Contemporaries 2019. Pérez Evans received a BA and MFA Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London (2010 and 2020). Recent exhibitions include Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, C3A Museum, Córdoba and Nogueras Blanchard, Barcelona.

    About the Henry Moore Institute

    The Henry Moore Institute is situated on The Headrow, next to Leeds Art Gallery, in Leeds city centre's cultural hub, just a five-minute walk from Leeds Station.

    We welcome everyone to visit our Galleries, Research Library and Archive of Sculptors’ Papers to experience, study and enjoy sculpture from around the world. The Institute can be found in the centre of Leeds, the city where Henry Moore (1898-1986) began his training as a sculptor. Our changing programme of historical, modern and contemporary exhibitions and events encourage thinking about what sculpture is, how it is made and the artists who make it.

    As part of the Henry Moore Foundation, we are a hub for sculpture, connecting a global network of artists and scholars, continuing research into the art form and ensuring that sculpture is accessible and celebrated by a wide audience.

    Open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am – 5pm
    The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AH

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    About The Henry Moore Foundation

    The Henry Moore Foundation was founded by the artist and his family in 1977 to encourage public appreciation of the visual arts. Today we support innovative sculpture projects, devise an imaginative programme of exhibitions and research worldwide, and preserve the legacy of Moore himself: one of the great sculptors of the 20th century, who did so much to bring the art form to a wider audience.

    Venue details

    Venue address

    Henry Moore Institute
    The Headrow
    LS1 3AH
    United Kingdom
    T: 0113 246 7467

    Opening times

    Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

    Research Library: Monday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm; Sunday, 1 - 5pm
    Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment