About Thomas J Price
YSP presented a solo exhibition of sculpture, animation and work on paper by British artist Thomas J Price, including the open-air premiere of Network (2013), the young artist's largest bronze to date.
The exhibition, in the Bothy Gallery and Lakeside, traced the evolution of Price's approach to the male figure. Price described this as a dual enquiry into his own white British and black Jamaican heritage as well as the identity of the black male in sculpture and culture history.
Bronze statues often represent and commemorate people of significance, predominantly white men. Price’s subjects are anonymous, usually composite, portraits of men in the street as well as images from magazines and newspapers. Through casting them in bronze and placing the figures on plinths, Price knowingly raises their status and subverts the tradition of sculpture and, in the process, the hierarchies of power it reflects.
My inspiration comes from so many different places, but ultimately people are my biggest inspiration, or perhaps strangers is a better word.- Thomas J Price
The nudes, shown in this exhibition, are the first male figures made by Price. They could be mistaken for historical artefacts, but their posture and size speak not of domination but vulnerability, loaded with pathos. They are named after roads in Brixton, where Price lives and works, which are themselves often named after significant people and places in Western culture.
Price explores the pose, position and status of historical sculpture and its continued relevance in contemporary life. Price's Marble Draft series prints were made during his time at the British School in Rome and document his manipulation of the printed presentation of classical art. His sculptures are made using very traditional techniques but are progressively contemporary; his bronze heads are placed on plinths sprayed with car paint, giving a vibrant, high-shine finish, and his figures, on ornate plinths, are recognisably of today through dress and posture. Each sculpture has a personality that begins an associated narrative in the viewer’s mind and it is this aspect of encounter that most interests Price – the subconscious and conscious judgements we form on first meeting someone.
Price explored this further in his stop-motion animations, which were first made at university and revealed to him the different responses people had to black and white subjects. The exhibition culminated in the nine-foot tall Network sited on Lakeside, a large figure whose focus is on his mobile phone and not on those around him.
In a time when sculpture has radically changed from its historical beginnings, and need no longer even be an object, Price shows that it is relevant to work in one of the oldest of methods and materials and still make highly original and contemporary work.
Born in London in 1981, Price studied at Chelsea College of Art and the Royal College of Art Sculpture School. In 2009 he was featured on BBC Four television documentary, Where is Modern Art Now? and was awarded the Arts Council England Helen Chadwick Fellowship. In 2010 he featured on BBC Four’s, How to Get A Head in Sculpture and was included in 10 Magazine’s Ten Sculptors You Should Meet.
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