The artistic approach of English artist Tom Price revolves around materials and is in particular directed by innovative and experimental creative processes. The result is an intriguing contemporary sculpture that is simultaneously form and content; the artist’s works are capable of telling a story as well as enchanting the viewer with their visual and aesthetic impact.
From design to sculpture
Tom Price is an English artist born in London in 1973, currently living and working in Mallorca, Spain. After graduating from London's Royal College of Art in 2007, he began his career creating functional pieces that lie halfway between art and design.
The ‘Meltdown’ series shows the manipulation of materials that has characterized Tom Price’s work since the start of his career. For this series, he uses pipes, ropes and plastic sheets to create innovative designer chairs. By pressing these materials onto a heated metal seat-shaped surface, the chairs are created through the transformation of plastic that is liquefied and then solidified.
Over the years, Tom Price's work has evolved more and more towards sculpture, always with materials as a narrative and conceptual foundation. The link with design has not, however, been completely severed. Some sculptures can indeed be considered hybrids, and their status can change from a work of art to a functional piece or vice versa depending on the look, the intention and the actions of the observer.
The narrative of the materials in Tom Price's work
Tom Price experiments with a broad range of media, from natural materials such as coal and wood, to synthetic resins and polypropylene. He also works in bronze, a more "classic" sculpture material. Using complex and unconventional processes of material transformation such as heating, breaking, mixing, moulding, bending and catalysis, the contemporary sculptor seeks a result that is new and exciting, not only to himself but also to the public.
He approaches his work like a scientist, exploring and testing through trials, observations, failures and learning. Tom Price looks for solutions to unexpected problems he encounters and, in order to overcome the limits of his own imagination, he also relies on luck, "happy accidents" that happen throughout the creative process.
“Sometimes materials themselves provide the concept and focal point of the artwork. In this case the final form will be an expression of the possibilities and limitations of the material and the processes that have been used to manipulate them. For works that are intended to express a broader narrative, it is crucial for me to select materials that are directly relevant to the concept, and that in some way augment or reinforce the story I am trying to tell." Tom Price
An example of this approach is the choice of materials used for the "Counterpart" commission for the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth House in England: the artist used coal, a link to the coal mines owned by the family, and resin with a translucent and crystalline appearance that references the mineral collection initiated by the Duchess Georgiana in the 18th Century. The materials thus forge a close link with the contextual history in which the works are exhibited.
An international career
Tom Price is now recognized internationally, his work being praised and acknowledged by exhibitions in institutions and galleries all over the world. Several of his pieces have been acquired by private collections and museums in the United States, Europe and Asia, including the MOMA San Francisco and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. His work appears in numerous publications. The artist has also produced large-format site-specific commissions, such as the 12-metre bronze installation "Vyner Tree" in Westminster, London.
- The Presence of Absence