Sean Henry, “Presence”
Umeå, 14.4–25.5 2007
With his realistic bronze sculptures, depicting ordinary men and women, Sean Henry has achieved great success around the world. Now, Stockholm is presented with Henry’s first solo exhibition, at Gallery Andersson/Sandström.
The office worker in a suit on the street, who stops for a second to look up to the sky. The woman with a tight ponytail and a smile which is not quite convincing. The absent-minded man who is well dressed, but has not noticed the wrinkled collar underneath his jacket. All of them are included in Sean Henry’s gallery of characters.
The British sculptor, born in 1965 in Woking, Surrey, has a background in the world of ceramics, and it is in clay that he first creates his figures, before casting them in bronze and then painting them with realistic colours. He depicts anonymous people, the unglamorous, controlled, thoughtful and serious. Henry’s sculptures are closing in on themselves, maybe hiding something, and while their expressions often are ambiguous or difficult to interpret, they always have a tremendous psychological presence. Also, they are never quite like us – the proportions are shifted so that the characters are either too large or too small. The completely realistic depiction does not interest Henry – something must be changed in order to create tension.
Since the mid-90’s, the sculptures of Sean Henry have faced the outside world from their own perspectives – the small, slightly cocky, provocative ones, and the large, somewhat awkward and overgrown. Many of them are now permanently installed in streets, squares, as well as in private collections. In London’s Holland Park you will find the Walking Man from 1998, at Berkeley Square in the same city there is Trajan’s Shadow. Henry’s most ambitious project is located at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, in Northumberland, England. Here, a 12 meter tall sculpture called Couple, has been overlooking the sea from a platform island in the harbor since 2007.
In Sweden, Sean Henry’s works have been shown at sculpture festivals, and several cities have permanent public pieces. Outside of the University College of Borås, one finds Catafalque, a man who is lying down, looking up into the sky, locally entitled “The Lazy Student”. At the town square in Umeå, the work Standing Man, is dressed in scarf and mittens by caring townspeople during wintertime, and outside of the Gävle hospital, the 83 cm tall Man Looking Up is great in all his smallness.
Galleri Andersson/Sandström has worked with Sean Henry since the turn of the millennium and this is his second solo exhibition curated by the gallery.