press release

THOMAS HOUSEAGO: WHAT WENT DOWN

Modern Art Oxford presents new and recent sculptures by British artist Thomas Houseago in his first major solo exhibition in a UK public gallery.

Thomas Houseago has come to prominence in recent years with his monumental, figurative sculptures that are charged with a remarkable energy and vitality. Houseago works primarily with media that demonstrate a sensibility towards classical sculptural materials and processes; primitive, totemic sculptures are hewn from giant timbers, hessian is slathered in plaster and crudely wrapped around steel armatures, and large-scale, free-standing works are cast in bronze. Houseago's sculptures possess a daring urgency, a tactility and brute physicality that expose the process of their own making.

Unapologetic in its evocation of classical and modernist sculpture, Houseago's somewhat crude and direct working belies a sophistication that is rich in cultural, mythological and art historical references. In a time of fast-paced technological change, Houseago's art takes on the psychological role of an awkward, unresolved reminder of the past – cumbersome and insistent in its emotional presence.

Alongside his presentation at Modern Art Oxford, Houseago presents a number of sculptures in the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. These pieces are placed in the newly redeveloped Cast Gallery, as well as the Atrium and Forecourt, providing visitors with surprising and dramatic discoveries, and highlighting the relationships and tensions between the past and the present found in Houseago's work.

Supported by The Henry Moore Foundation with thanks to the Thomas Houseago Exhibition Circle.

DAVID AUSTEN: END OF LOVE

David Austen's practice encompasses painting, drawing, sculpture, and more recently film, and shows an unceasing fascination with people, through myriad observations of thoughts, actions and relationships, reaching from the tender to the absurd. Austen's ambitious new film, End of Love, created for his Stanley Picker Fellowship, occupies our Project Space. Set on the stage of an empty London theatre, End of Love shows twelve characters who are vulnerable and alienated; they expose themselves as suffering figures, all are hurt, lost or broken and their performances resonate with a directness and rawness that typifies Austen's practice. Referencing theatre, literature, expanded cinema and performance as well as the artist's personal practice, End of Love is a poetic expression of love's elusiveness, the non-linearity of time, and fleeting facets of personal memory.

Austen's exhibition extends into The Yard, with the evocatively titled Smoke Town. Giant billboard posters of the film's protagonists and short enigmatic texts that read as film titles or characters' names clad the walls, illuminated by a series of spectacular hanging lights made from concentric circles of steel. Smoke Town transforms The Yard into a space suggestive of an other-worldly station platform or the threshold to a theatre.

Thomas Houseago:
What Went Down
&
David Austen:
End Of Love