HS Projects curated ’The Humility of Plaster’, an exhibition of recent work by Florian Roithmayr, following a two-year research and exhibition project exploring the materiality of collections housing plaster moulds and casts across Europe. This new body of sculptures was enabled through a partnership between the Museum of Classical Archaeology and Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, and Wysing Arts Centre, where Roithmayr has a studio. Initially shown amongst the collection of plaster casts of classical works at the Museum of Classical Archaeology and at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; at 5 Howick Place the works acquire an abstract, almost futuristic quality.
Moulding and casting are widely used techniques of modern and contemporary art making. Their use and application can be found in many other areas of production and material transformations not immediately associated with art practices, and in times before casting became an acceptable form of sculptural production in its own right.
Roithmayr combines his intimate knowledge of the material with unpredictability, as he sets up experiments, teasing out unexpected results. To a certain extent, he is giving over control in this hidden operation, deliberately allowing space for accidents in order to learn from them through these processes. His work is about generating and tracking changes in the material. The ambition in his practice is to register the consequences of one surface or material yielding another through capturing the unexpected gestures that occur in the gap between mould and cast. His work consists of materials that create each other the moment they are put together.
‘I find that there is something very rewarding and comforting about doing the same tasks over and over. Or spending time in a place with only a limited number of elements, absorbing the environment slowly. This allows for a mental space where the daily processes can become routine, and create an intimacy and immediacy that is otherwise hard to achieve.’
Alongside the exhibitions of this body of work, Roithmayr has developed an audio blog that presents interviews recorded in different plaster cast collections across Europe, drawing attention to the materials and techniques still used in the moulding workshops, often operating in parallel to the collections displaying the casts.
‘The Humility of Plaster’ was at 5 Howick Place from January to June 2019.