Gormley focuses his research on the human body (itself understood as space) in its relationship with the surrounding space, with other human beings and with the cosmos. Starting almost always from his own body, used as a cast or matrix, Gormley's sculpture aims not to represent, be it abstractly or figuratively, but rather to achieve a continuous process of investigation between existence and the surrounding space and on the contrast between presence and absence, mass and void, stasis and dynamism, light and darkness, imaginative and real space.
In this research process, which has now been ongoing for more than forty years, with the series of Cast Blockworks, Gormley recently arrived at the aesthetic of the pixel: The body is constructed by composing cubic volumes, carefully balanced to communicate a combined effect of stability and movement.
The title of this self-portrait emphatically refers to the meaning of 'presence' set before that of representation, and at the same time to the definition of the gift, or present. The pose of the figure, kneeling down, is in fact that of the donor in the presence of the Holy Family, or of the saints in the devotional altarpieces of the Middle Ages: an explicit homage, therefore, by the artist to the city of Florence and to the Uffizi collections and an acknowledgement of how much this cultural heritage has been a fundamental source of inspiration for him.
The artist donated the sculpture to the Uffizi Galleries in 2019, during the solo exhibition Antony Gormley. Essere.