Thomas Houseago: Roman Figures

at Gagosian Gallery, Rome
Jun 4, 2013 - Jul 26, 2013
Gagosian Gallery presents "Roman Figures," an exhibition of new sculpture by Thomas Houseago.
Engaging in a continuous dialogue with the past, Houseago retraces the history of figurative sculpture through the...
conditions of his own time. Drawing upon mythology, African tribal art, cartoon imagery, Italian Mannerism, science fiction, and robots, he wrests new vitality from the classical figure. Houseago’s giants have iron rebar skeletons and are made from plaster, hemp, and wood. Rough from jigsaw cuts and incorporating drawn parts, these visceral figures are distinctly postmodern in that they retrofit ancient and modern art history to the terms of popular culture and the traumatic realities of everyday life.

“Roman Figures” presents the large-scale sculpture Reclining Figure (For Rome) together with seven sculpted masks and Untitled (Walking Boy on Plinth) (all works 2013). The Roman Masks build upon the Western modernist fascination with spiritually charged tribal objects from Africa and the South Pacific. Crafted from clay, cast into plaster and hemp, and reinforced with iron armatures, the linear yet highly expressive skull-like reliefs, in which sculptural mass is imbued with the momentous quality of painting, provide startling new interpretations of the transhistorical, transcultural genre of vanitas or mortuary art.
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