Thomas Houseago
Alhena Katsof
June 2011

This summer marks Thomas Houseago’s first monographic show in France, at the Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’île de Vassivière. On the tail of two major exhibitions, organized in partnership with Modern Art Oxford and the Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach, this extensive presentation will make for an idyllic summer visit to the unique and beautiful art center on Vassivière Island. Designed by the Neo-Rationalist architect Aldo Rossi, the center is located in the middle of a lake in central France. Its building and grounds are an intriguing location for Houseago’s anthropomorphic sculptures, which are dispersed throughout the grounds and include a major piece installed in the island’s wooded sculpture garden. Houseago’s immense works are frequently hollow and flayed. The core structure of their coarsely attached limbs is made of white gypsum, raw wood, iron, and carbon pencil. The innovative casting techniques employed and the works’ chalky white surfaces give them a fragile, sketch-like appearance that undermines the potential heroism of the figures, each made of barely discernable bronze. In May, Modern Art Oxford published the artist’s first monograph, and a publication about the projects in Mönchengladbach and Vassivière will be released this summer. Pack a picnic and head off to this dreamlike landscape where Houseago’s mythic, fallen figures and abstracted reliefs will draw you into close proximity with the forms, at once powerful, suggestive, fragmented and vulnerable.