As emotional beings we need to excavate our fragility, our vulnerability. A sculpture can be a temple, a play area, a structure.
Gagosian is pleased to present The Ridge, an exhibition of sculpture and paintings on canvas by Thomas Houseago. This is his first exhibition with the gallery in his hometown of Los Angeles.
The title of the exhibition derives from Houseago’s childhood memory of a rocky pass in Leeds, England, known locally as “The Ridge,” where a man-made stone wall runs along the upper edge of a steep natural stone ridge. With the stone wall of the adjacent estate, this creates a narrow footpath or ginnel, blocking the drop beyond the ridge and the sightlines within the pass. Houseago’s recollection of this place is as much about a sense of peril and rite of passage as the actual physical experience.
The first element of the exhibition is a sculpted screen twelve feet in height made of cast plaster and rebar. Like previous works such as Masks (Pentagon) (2015), which consisted of five huge sculpted masks forming a chamber open to the sky, Open Wall (Beautiful Wall) (2016) resembles a pagan edifice or archaic ruin, more than a functional wall. The Z-shaped structure of permeable walls, like cellular membranes, divides and creates new spaces that allude to the human body. Beyond this structure, the exhibition continues with a series of geometric and spiral sculptures in white plaster. Within their nuanced abstractions of the human form, the interlocking structures suggest power and vulnerability, as well as masculine and feminine energies. With open, concentric cubic structures, these Nesting Abstracts have a similarly anthropomorphic quality, with loops that undulate against constraining geometry and dense material.
Twelve works on canvas constitute a new series entitled Black Paintings. In a meditative and evocative interplay between two and three dimensions, visages in stark relief are scratched out of thickly applied oil paint. Mining memories of roots, kin, and human relations, Houseago intensifies his investigations of the inspirative human form, and the kinesphere it occupies.