Thomas Schütte: Faces & Figures
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A painted portrait of what looks like a moody, sunglasses-clad Pete Doherty is one of the first images one sees in this exhibition by established German artist Thomas Schütte. Only it's not the face of pop ne'er-do-well Doherty, but a self-portrait from 1975, one of many in this show which focuses on the artist's idiosyncratic treatments of figures and faces.
The resemblance of the youthful Schütte to the Babyshambles frontman is a coincidence, but the fact that Doherty is something of an antihero does resonate with Schütte's own gallery of rogues, collectively titled, 'Wichte' (Jerks). Displayed high up on individual shelves these bronze heads may not depict real people but their patinated features, in Schütte's almost caricature style, are more powerfully expressive of personality and emotion – from irritation and pomposity to melancholy and bitterness – than most representations of actual people.
The same can be said of his black-and-white photographs of crumpled faces sculpted in Fimo modelling clay, the 'Innocenti'. Compared to these works and also Schütte's large scale sculptures, including two striking giant bronzes on the lawn outside the gallery, his quieter watercolour and ink portraits of friends, family and himself appear charming rather than emotionally charged.
The Bottom Line: 3D wins over 2D in this portrait-based face-off.