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John Carter:
Sight Lines

John Carter: Sight Lines is the first survey held in the UK of renowned Royal Academician and will cover the artist's work over the past 50 years. Carter is best known for his abstract sculptures and his dynamic combination of painting and sculpture. Celebrating the interaction between object and architecture, John Carter: Sight Lines will be held in Jerwood Gallery's Foreshore Gallery and Rooms 1 & 2.


John Carter RA (b. 1942) is best known for his abstract sculptures, and for the dynamic combination of painting and sculpture in his work.  Influenced and inspired by Pop Art, Op Art, American minimalism and Concrete Art, Carter has always followed his own path, tirelessly driven to explore the possibilities of visual perception.   Sight Lines is the first major survey of Carter’s work in the UK, showcasing sculpture, constructions and works on paper produced over the past 50 years. 

In Carter’s work solidity is often conveyed by something that is not there, by a negative space. Absence and illusion, and the sheer scale of some of Carter’s works, encourage the viewer to engage in an exploration of space, and their own physical relationship to the object. Speaking about the surprising optical effects in his work, Carter has said: ‘one of the most important aspects of my work [is] the idea of a stable form in conjunction with one which is very slightly disturbed. Set at an angle, perhaps. You are not quite certain what has happened, but you are aware that what you are looking at is not an absolutely regular situation and that some disruption, some disturbance, perhaps very slight, is taking place.’

John Carter was born in Middlesex and studied at Twickenham and Kingston Schools of Art, where he focused on painting. In 1963 Carter was awarded a Leverhulme Travelling Scholarship to Italy, and it was at the British School at Rome where he first experimented with abstract constructions.  Carter also spent time in the USA and Germany, where he was particularly inspired by the aims and ideas of the European concrete and constructive artists. Carter’s work has been exhibited widely in Europe, Japan, and the USA, and in leading institutions including the Royal Academy of Arts, Whitechapel Gallery, and at the Royal Festival Hall, London. His work is held in major national collections including Arts Council Collection, the British Museum, Pallant House Gallery and Southampton City Art Gallery. Carter lives and works in London.

Galleries 1 and 2 include a number of Carter’s more recent large-scale works, as well as works on paper and archive material, giving an insight into his process and influences.  Mathematics, particularly geometry and the relationships between volumes, plays a central role in Carter’s creative process and is a fundamental element in all his work.  Carter is particularly interested in exploring colour, equality of space and shapes, and the universal language of forms. Writing about the dialogue between painting and sculpture in his work, Carter observed: ‘my work is an extension of painting into three dimensions; its geometric forms are made from plywood, coloured with a coating of acrylic and marble powder. The physical, tactile character of each work is closer to sculpture than painting, and the shape, thickness, and holes or slots cut into the surface give a sense of physical presence that is unlike the experience of looking at a painting.’

Jerwood Gallery would like to thank John Carter for his inspiring approach to this exhibition, and our key partner, Redfern Gallery, for their expertise and support. All works are courtesy of the artist and Redfern Gallery, London. 


©Jerwood Gallery 2019