Tom Price

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Tom Price
Tom Price at Hales Gallery, 2011

Downsizing collectors could do worse than snap up one of Tom Price’s diminutive sculptures. Mining similar territory to Tomoaki Suzuki and Don Brown, Price, a relatively recent RCA graduate with a string of awards already behind him, toys with the convention of classical sculpture as being a celebration of heroic endeavour or physical prowess. Instead of striking muscular poses or lording it over us in formal attire, his male figures slouch and relax, mostly in casualwear, paunches visible through sweatshirts, hands hanging to the sides or tucked into pockets. Each is an everyman, perhaps an underdog.

The work gains an added note of discontent in today’s climate of things and people being cut down to size. Price, of white British and black Jamaican parentage, presents us with five black men in dark bronze who contrast with the conspicuously ritzy plinths on which they stand – variously rejuvenated wooden pedestals that shriek of the establishment. Between figure and support, comparisons of status are invited. Similarly, titles – ‘Sportswear (Achilles Street)’, ‘New Drape (Shakespeare Road)’ – contrast the poetic roots of many of London’s street names with what we know to be their contemporary reality.

But the work refuses to settle along neat socio-political lines. While his artisanal handiwork draws attention to detail, Price’s figures are amalgamations of people observed from life and in the media, whose chief purpose is to convey mood. The atmosphere here is one of isolated introspection. Race, class, issues of visibility and expectation are all present. Yet, adopting a traditional, conservative approach, with its implicit sense of entitlement and continuity, Price asks wider questions about who or what we should memorialise, and why. Uncertain art for uncertain times and all that…

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a really lovely collection, fascinating concept, small but worth the visit.