Johan Tahon – sculptures

14 November – 24 December 2010

Johan Tahon‘s (1965) installation MILKWOOD at Galerie Maurits van de Laar, is comparable with the work presented by him at Watou 2009, the annual festival for visual arts and literature in West Flanders. Plaster ‘lianas’ are ramifying in the gallery space, from which ceramic heads are growing like mushrooms on the spores of a freakishly expanding fungus. In addition to this, recent ceramic and plaster sculptures will be presented in a more traditional presentation.

Man is at the centre of Tahon’s work, frequently represented as an elongated, fragile figure. His sculptures express strong emotions and show the desire to rise above human failings, to get access to the spiritual. Until 2006 Tahon worked exclusively in plaster, which he cuts into the desired form with an axe after it has hardened. The process of building up and reworking is highly instinctive and intuitive, which is visible in the searching and vulnerable expression of his sculptures. A sense of man’s insignificance in the face of the universe, or man’s imperfection in the face of the divine is present, by which Tahon expresses a basic search for spirituality.

In his ceramic sculptures the human figure is predominant also. Working with clay has other demands, the workprocess is slower and consists of adding and modelling material, rather than hacking in gipsum. It also allows for more refinement in the details compared to sculpting in plaster. Often a mould is made from a head or another form that is used as an element in new sculptures. The free and expressive use of white glaze, almost as if painting with it, is characteristic for the ceramic sculptures.

Parallel to the exhibition in the gallery, Johan Tahon has a solo show at the Dutch National Bank in Amsterdam: 12 Nov – 19 Dec. Westeinde 1, 1017 ZN Amsterdam.
His exhibition The Sculptors’ s Dream at the Gerhard Marcks Haus in Bremen, Germany runs through 9 January 2011: