The creative practices of artists Phillip King and Alexandre da Cunha are set to intertwine in September, during a week of practical tête-à-tête at The Royal Society of Sculptors in London’s South Kensington. The exhibition’s title, ‘Duologue’ – defined as ‘a play or part of a play with speaking roles for only two actors’ – alludes to this unique ‘live collaboration’.

More a performance rehearsal than typical exhibition, the show’s format will provoke an impulsive interchange between the duo and their respective methods of making. The polished final result is superseded by an emphasis on experimentation. 

A former president of the Royal Academy, Phillip King initiated a new era of British post-war art, staging sculpture as a full-body experience. Captivated by the possibilities of gravity, he enticed audiences with his signature ‘cones’ and diverse use of materials. Tackling brutalist and surrealist themes through clay and plaster, he subsequently phased in fibreglass moulds that later gave way to vibrant blends of steel, newspaper, wood and slate all emanating from his north London studio, a former stamp factory.

Public Sculpture (pouff 6), 2014, by Alexandre da Cunha

Public Sculpture (pouff 6), 2014, by Alexandre da Cunha. Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photography: Richard Ivey

‘Duologue is a play with just two people in it – however this particular play has no script, which gives us maximum freedom for trying new ideas,’ says King. ‘In order to start I personally will bring a lot of the type of things and material I have in the studio and put it all in a corner... and then we will see what happens next.’

Da Cunha operates in a sculptural system of minimalism, interrupted by the isolated and often-humorous repurposing of found objects. The artist taps into his native Brazil’s neo-concrete urbanism, channeling the eclectic architecture of cities such as Rio de Janeiro. ‘This project is a great opportunity for me to engage with Phillip King’s practice and open doors to a dialogue about our works,’ explains da Cunha, who hopes audiences will find a new perspective on both of their practices.

Once the weeklong performance has elapsed and the artists have left, the Dora House studio space will remain exactly as the artists have left it, with every physical remnant intact and on display until 2 December. Privy to each intimate moment of conception, the exhibition will allow observers to snoop behind the curtain at uncharted processes, embracing each creative detour en route. §