The contrasts at play in this collective exhibition of works by Thomas Houseago, Dieter Roth, and André Thomkins offer a kind of aesthetic parenthesis that contains a diverse set of reference points. The wall-based and sculptural works on view span from 1959 to 2009 and establish significant affinities between the artists that divert the pieces from their original contexts. Roth’s Faltened Bust of a Poet, 1969, is a curious inclusion, rendering in sculptural form the nightmarish physicality of his drawings. This work brings to mind an immediate and flattering comparison to the younger Houseago’s Coin Mask, 2008, as well as to his Untitled, 2009, which furthers Houseago’s empathetic references to Naum Gabo in these abstract portraits. Roth’s most resonant works in the exhibition, however, are the suite of thirty framed drawings collectively titled 30 Monsters from Danneckerstrasse, 1969. These works depict, in twisted cartoonish imaginings, his pencil-drawn visage and suggest a melancholia that can feasibly be applied to the psychology of the other artists.
The intergenerational dialogues between the works here establish a contemporary relevance for the older works on view. For example, André Thomkins’s unique Lackskin-on-paper pieces maintain their experimental and aesthetically alluring nature despite their dates of origin (1958–81). These technically curious pieces are illuminated by documentary footage that plays on a monitor, which depicts the methods he used and acts as an effective bridge between his production and the media’s potential in the present. Such references provide the youthful Houseago with a historically rich heritage in which to position his practice.