announced the display Thomas J Price at the V&A. One of the leading sculptors of his generation, Thomas J Price is celebrated for his arresting yet contemplative sculptures depicting everyday individuals. He explores ideas of monument, representation, and value with a radical empathy that celebrates connection and shared humanity, using his figurative sculpture to prompt viewers to reflect on their preconceptions about status and appearance. This new free display sees these ideas in dialogue with objects from the V&As historic collection, with eight works by the artist installed throughout the museum.
Describing his figures as psychological portraits, Prices large-scale sculptures depict amalgams of ordinary people, fictional characters composed from different individuals he has encountered in the streets of London. Price carefully selects materials, scale and display methods to subvert sculptural traditions, addressing issues of visibility, identity, and the objectification of Black people in visual culture and the media. Deeply rooted in empathy, Prices figures do not honour singular individuals, but are a celebration of connection and shared humanity.
Highlights of the figures on display include Prices Lay It Down (On the Edge of Beauty). This larger than life-size sculpted head of a woman carries the dignified majesty of a deity yet is recognisably contemporary. Made of a polished bronze that shines like gold, it sits in the Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries amongst pre-Victorian busts. Also on display is Signals, placed in Room 25 of the sculpture galleries next to Vincenzo Fogginis Samson and the Philistines. Finished in a gleaming golden patina, Prices work shows a young man holding his phone up to the sky, searching for mobile connection.
Three large marble and aluminium heads from Prices Numen (Shifting Votive) Series are being featured in the Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries. In Latin, numen means divinity or divine presence while a votive is a gift of worship. Inspired by ancient sculptures, the Numen series prompts us to consider who we look up to and who has become the object of the publics worship today. Price combines the traditional process of lost-wax casting with aluminium, a material more commonly associated with modern engineering. The works set out to challenge traditional holders of power, to question provenance and instead bind one human experience to another in a manner that feels inclusive.
Thomas J Price said: Collaborating with the V&A has a profound significance for me, having grown up visiting the museum and being acutely aware of the absence of figurative works I could relate to, whilst recognising the importance engrained within the collection. Ive remained deeply invested in exploring the philosophical and material conditions that have informed the making of art and its complex significance within society. The intervention of my work endeavours to shift preconceived notions around status and identity, igniting new and expansive connections between the objects on view and visitors within the space.
V&A Curator, Sculpture 1900 now, Melanie Vandenbrouck, said: Thomas J Price makes some of the most exciting and interesting work in sculpture today. In its sophisticated engagement with sculptural traditions, his work asks pertinent questions about the nature of monuments and what these mean to us. Ultimately, Price invites to think about, and celebrate, what connects us as a society.
Thomas J Price lives and works in London. Conceptually driven, his multidisciplinary practice encompasses a wide range of mediums, including performance, animation, photography and painting. Price studied at Chelsea College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London and has held solo exhibitions at institutions including: The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada; The National Portrait Gallery, London, UK; Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK; MAC, Birmingham, UK; Royal College of Art, London, UK; Harewood House, Leeds, UK; and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, UK. Prices work is held in collections such as The Donum Estate, Sonoma, CA; Government Art Collection, London, UK; The Wedge Collection, Canada; Derwent London, UK; Murderme, UK; and the Rennie Collection (Canada). Price was the recipient of the Arts Council England Helen Chadwick Fellowship in 2009.
Price was commissioned by Hackney Council to create the first permanent public sculptures to celebrate the contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants in the UK, unveiled in June 2022. His solo presentation, Witness, in collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem was on view in Marcus Garvey Park from 2021 2022. In 2023, Price will open his first comprehensive solo exhibition in the US at Hauser & Wirth Downtown Los Angeles, from 24 May 2023.