I’ll Be Your Sister/Special Brew: Thomas Houseago at Hauser & Wirth
The figures of Thomas Houseago’s sculptures are giants, yet they are humbled by their fractured bodies that reveal their internal iron structures and the chunky accretions of plaster that have accumulated over their bodies, binding them to their support. Notably, the animal figures in this exhibition retain their natural form to a greater degree than their human counterparts that have been dissected in a variety of fashions.
Standing Owl I appears particularly robust; its face set deep under thick layers of plaster, only a piercingly dark eye breaks the sculpture’s surface that even then exposes nothing.
Two Fingers appears as the resurrection of some colossus, gripping the floor of the gallery and reaching up simultaneously through the gesture of each of its digits. This piece has a theatricality that is absent from many of the other sculptures involving body parts. One is encouraged to imagine the remainder of the monumental figure lying beneath the gallery space. Other pieces contrast this by placing emphasis on the disembodiment of limbs, such as Walking Figure I (City). Here, not only are the legs disembodied, but also they exist as a mash up with what appears to be comically flimsy mechanical prosthetics.
Occasionally Houseago’s sculptures convey a sense of myth and tragedy, bodies that appear to have been excavated or majestic creatures that tower over the viewer. Houseago’s sculptures tend to exist within thematic categories within which there sometimes is little formal variation; Walking Figure I (City) is an exception for the pieces which are based around dissected body parts. Ultimately, a little too many pieces lack the witty DIY execution, which makes Houseago an exciting sculptor.
Photos: Hauser & Wirth
I’ll Be Your Sister/Special Brew: Thomas Houseago is at both the North and South Savile Row Hauser & Wirth galleries from 7th September until 27th October 2012. For further information or to book visit the gallery’s website here.