Thomas Houseago’s Bottle II greets Pizzuti Collection visitors at our front door. Melding bottle and skeletal shapes into a monumental form, the work is suggestive of cubist or expressionist sculpture, only here in a 21st century toughened version. Bottle II reads as strong and macho even with its immobile, solid form and decidedly macabre face.
Housago employs a variety of media in his sculptural practice: plaster supported by iron rebar, wood, bronze and even hemp. And his topics are decidedly figurative. He draws anatomy onto plaster, he makes bodies without heads and hands to disturbing effects and he expands shapes to awkwardly elephantine proportions. Houseago’s work is laced with citations to historical moments and often compared to that of Picasso or Brancusi. But Housago’s practice is neither precious nor conceptual. It is always about the body – however upended or strange. The artist combines art historical references with comments about Star Wars and Hanna Barbara saying, “Our generation sees modernist art through the lens of pop culture, not the other way around.” Bottle II and all of Houseago’s sculpture are physical and powerful showings of the contemporary state of figuration.
Thomas Houseago (b. 1972 in Leeds, England) lives and works in Los Angeles, California.