Often using art history as a departure point for his surreal reinventions, Peter Coffin’s work engages with pre-conceptions about cultural ideals to challenge established perception and interpretation. Taking the form of a giant hand leaning happy-go-lucky against a plinth, Coffin’s Untitled (Unfinished Hand) humorously personifies the tropes of traditional sculpture. Reconfiguring the idealism of modernist art where material purity and the authority of the artistic gesture were held sacrosanct, Coffin monumentalizes the ‘integrity of the artist’s hand’ in wooden planks and wire mesh – the bare bones stuff of modelling.
Coffin’s Untitled (Spiral Staircase) takes the idea of a simple architectural fitting to an absurd extreme. Reminiscent of Escher’s Infinite Staircase, Coffin’s winding steps are moulded into a circle, inexhaustibly twisting in impossible logic made real. By remodeling the steps, Coffin strips the staircase of its function, turning a thing which is normally engaged with physicality into a dizzying conceptual game. Through his humorous constructions, Coffin bridges art history and everyday experience, subverting the preconceptions of both.