Lingam of a Thousand Lingams

2005
Black indian granite
450 x 270 x 270 cm
Edition of 1

The way in which the subject of sex and gender is addressed in religion interests Cox and Lingam of a Thousand Lingams is concerned with how masculinity is described in Hinduism. The lingam (or phallus) is one of the iconographical images associated with the God Siva—‘the destroyer’. Carvings of this particular symbol are found in temples across the country and had a deep impact on Cox when he encountered them during his time in India.

Projecting straight up from the ground and adorned with repeated cylindrical mounds, references to the penis are plain to see. Lingam of a Thousand Lingams is imposing in scale and, due to the qualities of the stone, is both hard and dark with visible, rough chisel marks, giving the work a strong masculine feel. Statues of the Lingam in India often appear in conjunction with a female counterpart. Here, this relationship is with the ground, Cox seeing ‘mother earth’ as the sculpture’s female partner.

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About The Artist

Stephen Cox is perhaps best known for his monolithic sculptures and has worked prolifically in Italy, India and Egypt, implementing native materials to create contemporary formal works that echo with historical and cultural connotations.

Stephen Cox’s work is widely influenced by other cultures. Rooted in Classicism, his early sculptures are related to architecture and archaic fragments and were realised in stone from Italian quarries. In 1986, Cox represented Britain at the Sixth Indian Triennale in New Delhi. He went to Mahabalipuram—a centre for traditional Hindu carving, to make sculpture for the exhibition, and since that time has maintained a studio there. The carvings he made in granite from the ancient quarries of nearby Kanchipuram had a great bearing on his work over the next decade.

In 1988, he was commissioned to carve sculpture for the new Cairo Opera House, Egypt, and was allowed to quarry Imperial porphyry at Mons Porphyrytes in the Eastern Desert, which had not been used since the end of the Roman Empire. This led to new developments in his imagery, such as references to the human torso. In varying his treatment of the rich red and green stones, Cox developed his sculpture towards a more abstract state. In 1993, he completed a commission for the parish church of St Paul, Harringay, using Italian and Egyptian stones. His most recent work in Egypt was centred on the Kephren quarries in the Western Desert of southern Egypt.

‘Lingam of a Thousand Lingams’ is currently on display

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Visiting Information

Stephen Cox

Born: 1946

Other Artworks by Stephen Cox at CASS

2009

Peregrine

Like its larger sculptural counterpart Grand Peregrine, this sculpture casts a slender and imposing shadow across the fo…

2009

Grand Peregrine

Stephen Cox’s work plumbs the depths of history through his use of traditional materials and sculptural techniques. Carv…

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