Museum Abteiberg

What Went Down


20. März - 19. Juni 2011

Thomas Houseago is currently one of the most frequently discussed sculptors of the younger generation. His works demonstrate a new approach to sculptural figuration. Houseago presents an astonishingly sensuous, almost archaic materiality, which incorporates the effects of past and now apparently no longer feasible sculptural motifs: tableau, statue and torso, antique and modern allegories of humans, gods and creatures. Houseago risks the irritating effect of these recurring bodies and an art historical force whose seriousness and grandeur recall the former urge to develop a modern image of what it is to be human. That tradition is particularly evident in Houseago’s native Britain – in the memory of the anthropomorphous abstractions of Jacob Epstein or Henry Moore.

Houseago’s sculptures do not replicate heroic or spiritual physical forms, however, but transform them into fictionality and stage-like drama. His works are contemporary, since they are fantasy too. They operate with fantastic and mythical concepts, which are at times also derived from the digital world of plastic and, indeed, inspired by it. Yet Houseago’s works are, above all, prior to all these associations and to every image or depiction, very sketch-like and graphic creations. Their scenic construction is especially characteristic: Houseago’s sculptures are often supernaturally large, yet hollow and open, the carnality of heroes breaking off in flat surfaces, their limbs attached only coarsely like prostheses. White gypsum, raw wood, core iron structures and carbon pencil are always the base materials, followed by sculptural cast techniques which, due to new processes, are often similarly fragile, sketch-like and colourless. They are bronze, but yet almost inscrutable beneath whitish chalky or contrasting negative back patina surfaces.