Press Release: MOBILE PHONES, SWEATSHIRTS AND ‘FADE’ HAIRCUTS ... LONDON’S STREETS REIMAGINED THROUGH CLASSICAL SCULPTURE AT NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

Friday 11 May 2016 

24 June - 5 September 2016, National Portrait Gallery, London, Free Admission 

Supported by the William Brake Charitable Trust

A group of classically-inspired sculptures of black London men with modern accessories - such as a mobile phone tucked into a pocket, American sports sweatshirts and a male haircut known as a ‘fade’ - will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery from next month, it was announced today, Wednesday 11 May 2016.

The striking works in bronze and large-scale aluminium by 34-year-old London artist Thomas J Price are fictitious figures that are given a geographical identity based on areas in London where Price has lived and worked such as Hackney, Brixton, Dalston and Deptford. 

Works are given titles with historic or mythic associations, such as ‘Man on a Horse (King’s Avenue)’ and ‘Achilles Street’ making the ordinary sound heroic and the fabled appear normal. Traditional cast bronze figures are placed on colourful Perspex bases and reclaimed plinths, and sculptures are cast in strikingly modern aluminium and placed on grand marble columns.

A survey, which includes six representative works from the last five years Thomas J Price: Now You See Me (24 June - 5 September 2016) shows how the artist has imbued each character with a seemingly plausible persona, yet the subjects all have invented identities. These are constructed with the help of people he has observed on the street, from magazine images or from historic sculpture.

His works all share a fascination with the minutiae of body language, facial expression and external presentation, and in turn, their ability to suggest a state of mind. Renowned for his use of traditional materials and methods, Price draws on classical and neoclassical precedents to create resolutely contemporary sculptures, depicting black, male figures.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says, “We are delighted to present this display at the Gallery and to be able to show for the first time Price’s remarkable work, fusing the modern with classical, sculptural traditions.”

Artist, Thomas J Price, says, “The National Portrait Gallery is home to hundreds of images of those considered remarkable or inspirational. By exhibiting a selection of sculptures depicting anonymous fictional characters in this context, my aim is to present the viewer with an alternative and challenging perspective to the archetypal consensus of greatness - one that will encourage visitors to explore their own processes of perceiving character.”

Lucy Wood, Curator, says:  “Now You See Me explores the representation of black men in art and contemporary culture and illuminates Price’s challenging response to the traditional genre of portrait sculpture. These beautiful figures with their defiant, detached expressions prompt us to consider the ways in which we look at and understand race and portraiture.”

Thomas J Price: Now You See Me is the latest in a series of annual summer displays by contemporary artists which have included the work of Ishbel Myerscough and Chantal Joffe, and Catherine Goodman, and Alex Katz. The contemporary displays are supported by the William Brake Charitable Trust.

Thomas J Price: Now You See Me is curated by the National Portrait Gallery’s Curator Lucy Wood. The display is supported by the William Brake Charitable Trust.

DISPLAY

Thomas J Price: Now You See Me (24 June – 5 September 2016). The display is in Rooms 41 and 41a of the Gallery.  Admission free

For further press information and image requests please contact: Ailsa Mellor, Press Manager, National Portrait Gallery, London Tel: 020 7321 6620 (not for publication) Email: amellor@npg.org.uk   Press images: npg.org.uk/press

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE, opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10am – 9pm  (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross General information: 0207 306 0055 Recorded information: 020 7312 2463  Website/Tickets: npg.org.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS

Thomas J Price (born London, UK, 1981) studied at Chelsea College of Art (2001-2004) and received an MA at the Royal College of Art, Sculpture School (2004-2006). Since 2005, Price has been making figurative sculptures.  In 2009, he was featured alongside Grayson Perry, Michael Landy, Sir Anthony Caro and Cornelia Parker on the BBC 4 television documentary, Where is Modern Art Now?, presented by Gus Casely-Hayford. 

In 2010, Price featured on BBC 4’s, How to Get A Head in Sculpture, also featuring Marc Quinn and Sir Anthony Caro. In 2010, Price was included in 10 Magazine’s Ten Sculptures You Should Meet and was an invited artist at the Royal Academy Summer Show. Price lives and works in London.

In 2013, during his second solo show with Hales Gallery, Price presented his first large space sculpture Network. The work subsequently was placed on display at the prestigious Yorkshire Scuplture Park, coinciding with Price's solo display at the Park (2014).

Selected exhibits include shows at the Royal Academy of Arts (London), Mac Birmingham (UK), Royal College of Art (London), Art Basel Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China and Hales Gallery (London). Price’s work was also included in shows in the US and Europe.


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