Galerie Fons Welters - Amsterdam

Something to Be

From 28 October until 25 November, Galerie Fons Welters presents new works by Thomas Houseago. This will be the artists’ first exhibition at the gallery. ‘Something to be’ consists of large scale figurative works, all of which have been made in the last six months. These works are all sculptures modeled from clay; plaster silhouettes built up of flat parts or voluminous casts.
 Houseago’s sculptures reflect a fascination for gestures, poses and details of the human body – the creases in a stomach, the hollow of a back, the twist of an arm with a footstep. Each work is based on a specific physical sensation and ignores all things which might detract from it. The perspective is like that of a child whose attention is absorbed by a leg or a hand, without consideration of the totality of the body. Most of these anonymous figures are therefore incomplete, many without a face or a gender.
While Houseago’s earlier works were almost caricatures, brightly colored personages all with their own name, the recent series is more of a profound investigation of the relation between the reality of the body and the reality of sculpture. Whether static or dynamic, the bold appearance of these bodies is impressive. They do not represent something else, they simply are themselves. Some seem tense and forceful, others calm, humble and fragile. The artist could not have foreseen how these figures would evolve. He speaks of the loss of control during the process of making, of the moment in which the barrier of the imaginative is broken whereby the sculpture incorporates a new, physical reality. His curiosity is driven by a fascination for the axis between the elusiveness of the fantasy and the palpability of the mass of material before him.
For Houseago, sculpture is the appropriate medium in which to chart essential areas of human experience. The human experiences in question are those which are excluded from the capitalistic ‘economy of experiences’, experiences such as crisis and the fear of death, or the satisfaction in the remembrance of things passed. If these brick red or grimy off-white figures seem foreign or archaic, it is not because of their fragmented or deformed nature but because they hint at the increasing alienation of physical sensations in the digital world of today. Like the distant offspring of Gaugin’s woodcuts, Rodin’s bronzes and the profane sculptures of non-western civilizations, Houseago’s figures celebrate their own bodily presence  – including their formless state and organic appearance. As if they want to ascertain the most rudimentary nature of the human condition. 

Dominic van den Boogerd    

Thomas Houseago (1972, Leeds) lives and works in Brussels. He studied at St. Martin’s College of Art in London and at de Ateliers in Amsterdam. Houseago has participated in: ‘Thomas Houseago’ (Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, 1996), ‘Mum’s Tattoo’ (Antwerp, 1996), ‘Accrochage’ (Galerie Xavier Hufkens, Brussels, 1997), ‘Morning Glory’ (de Ateliers, Amsterdam, 1998) and ‘Glad IJs’ (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1999).