In the midst of an older pandemic, British poet John Keats reflected on the relationship between distance and loneliness: “I feel more and more every day, as my imagination grows stronger, that I am not living. in this world alone but in a thousand worlds. ‘ This winter, the world is returning to confinement, registering the change of seasons with loneliness out loud like any poet could. But as the UK-based designer and artist reflects, “our souls write our lives.” Two new retrospective exhibitions in China present Throup’s work over the past 15 years as an experiment on how objects translate the life of a mind into “a thousand worlds” of memory and distance.
“Physically I’m here in the UK, but at the same time I’m aware that these exhibitions are organized and presented halfway around the world,” Throup recalls. “It’s strange, I guess, if you think about it in terms of the mechanics of time and space. For Throup, however, thinking about it is like tuning an instrument with the appropriate sound and vibration. “My point of view is very internal,” he explains, “and when I’m in the spirit, I feel like the possibilities for engagement are all potentially there, whether it’s with the distant or the familiar. ” The work on display, itself, is a kind of transmitter, which generates its own mechanics and reinforces its own signal, drawing the artist, exhibitor and collector in a shared potential harmonic.
It’s been 15 years since Throup graduated from the Royal College of Art and created his concept, When football hooligans become Hindu gods, and both exhibitions trace the development of his studio as an experimental design site. In both exhibitions, pieces from TheDSA and collections like Stone Island and CP Company appear alongside drawings from the “Daily Sketchbook Archives,” as well as clothing, life-size sculptures and puppets from his evolving philosophical design project. , New Object Research.
An exhibit, featuring remasters of Throup’s original drawings from his RCA collection, opened at the Zovin store in Shenzhen, China, earlier this month. The Zovin exhibition also features an exclusive capsule from TheDSA, Throup’s conceptual streetwear brand. For Zovin viewers, the exhibition offers a glimpse into how Throup’s practice emerges as a conversation with and between objects, conceptual forms and their possibilities.
The DSA, for example, is subverting commodification, replacing logos and Blade runner-White noise-styled corporate “identities” with original figurative numbers and sketches associated with Throup’s “Daily Sketchbook Archives”. The pieces in the DSA collection – versatile, gender neutral, and rendered in appropriate neutral tones – invite us to participate in an exploration of how we negotiate individuality through shared use and forms. “We have this identity that we navigate outwardly in life,” says Throup, “but when all of these external interactions stop, we’re just inside with our feelings, our struggles. ”
A parallel exhibition opens today in Hong Kong. Organized by Ink Clothing, this 15-year retrospective – which draws on the world’s most comprehensive private collection of works by Throup – will run until February 20, 2022 at K11 MUSEA. The sprawling and iconic K11 complex in Victoria Dockside – Hong Kong’s ‘Silicon Valley of Culture’ – is a fitting landscape for Throup’s figures and forms, redefining, as it does, the relationship between commerce retail, high art and fashion. Remastering, after all, is a form of reconsideration, not reproduction. “When Michelangelo speaks of finding the figure in marble,” explains Throup, “it is because he finds it. It’s already there.
“It is important that the life of the spirit transcends physical reality,” Throup explains, “and documents and ritualizes it, especially when there are certain things that happen – moments, manifestations, transitions ”. In this sense, the 120 sculptures, drawings, accessories, clothing and videos involved in these exhibitions offer a dazzling array of potential interactive “manifestations”.
One of the striking things about the “15 Years of Aitor Throup Studio” anniversary exhibit is how it “remastered” conventional ideas about the dynamic between artists and collectors. “I rely on the idea of art as communication,” says Throup, “and in this context, the particular energy of these pieces is their immersive and experiential conception. »Sculptures, props, puppets – these are meant to be used and revived. Part of this involves the collector’s engagement with the possible narrative contexts of the design elements, but in a way that emphasizes the object as a site to be analyzed and inhabitable. “The physical act of transforming something,” Throup observes, “is the power to choose”.
Throup’s 15-year retrospective presents choice as a form of memory. “I have this very specific feeling of being a kid,” Throup concludes, “and experiencing the joy of playing with my action figures, especially when they have accessories – the more detachable accessories, the better. it is. For collectors, this ethos drives a relationship to art as an invitation rather than a possession. And new, unforeseen interactions with Throup’s work provide a way for him to re-engage with his older work. “The work forced me to remember, to recreate these experiences. You have to let it recalibrate you. The collector, the artist – in the solitude of whatever our work may be, who among us would not want to become our childhood self again, “alone but in a thousand worlds” of delight?