The artist duo Jos de Gruyter (B. 1965) and Harald Thys (B. 1966) are presenting their first institutional exhibition in Denmark at Kunsthal Aarhus. In the thirty years spent working together – from their first meeting at Sint Lucas University College of Arts of Brussels in 1987 – Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys have given shape to a heterogeneous and complex corpus of works. They have been working with and embracing among other approaches video as well as drawing, sculpture, installation and performance. The artists have made numerous sculptural and videos that use poppets and portraits as their subject. One of their main interests is portraying the human being, its behaviour alone as well as in groups. The characters are portrayed are often those that can be considered marginalised in society. The faces and bodies are often simplified or even abstract presented almost as caricatures in an absurd, artificial world.
At Kunsthal Aarhus, they focus on their current main field of interest, producing a new series of 17 small sculptural heads made of plaster, fake hair and paint, included into an existing series of works. The faces are placed on small shelves throughout the gallery space. The 3D-printed plaster faces of international politicians, dictators, B-movie actors, friends, publicly known recognisable figures, murderers and victims, living as well as dead historical people, are presented without any hierarchy and moral judgment. No matter their historical importance or role, they all appear equal (equally frightening and equally innocent), flat, motionless and stereotyped.
The exhibition is accompanied by a book with individual descriptions and photographs of all characters and their stories.
"The danger that this prank aesthetics will descend into a farce is a risk that this artist duo is used taking. And this time, they don’t fall into the trap. Instead, they are making an exhibition for everyone where thrill and laughter are accompanying each other in equal measure."
Kunstkritikk, Mathias Dyhr, 07.11.2018
"They seem big in the empty room. And they remind you of grandiose busts of important people. But when you approach the individual head, it's as if it's shrinking, and instead mimics the violent gesture of a decapitated, mummified trophy. The wide open and pupilous eyes seem frozen in a moment of pure terror."
Kunsten.nu, Lene Baggesgaard, 08.11.2018
”Nobody is good or evil. They just are. You can read the biography of the exhibited people in a small arrangement of seats in the middle of the room. It’s pretty entertaining, especially because some of the real people are so outlandish, that it’s hard to distinguish them from the fictional personas. The reality really exceeds the imagination!”
Aarhus Stifstidende, Christian Salling, 30.10.2018
”Their humor is understated, but easy to understand. When they tell you about it, they start to laugh when they get to the tagline. That’s if they don’t sporadically go outside the building to smoke a roll up. They can’t do without those.”
Aarhus Stiftstidende, Hans Petersen, 25.10.2018