Benjamin Houlihan – the woods have names

As different as Benjamin Houlihan’s works may seem at first glance, as much they are united by their shared interest in exploring the possibilities and limits of the medium of sculpture. Already in 2006, in his “Light Traps” made of polyester and fiberglass, Houlihan transformed disembodied rays of light into compact seemingly abstract sculptural manifestations of the immaterial. Since 2010, the artist has turned inconspicuous everyday objects through shifts in their material and size into larger-than-life figures with a suggestive aura ranging between physical presence and disturbingly alien autonomy. Expansive amorphous color accumulations of polyurethane with added color pigments are another of the artist’s creations. They allude to a form of painting that has become physical, so to speak, while also dealing with the question of form and formlessness. In his wall paintings, which are made of curd and food coloring which the artist applies with his tongue, the trained stonemason also touches on the topic of painting.

The focus of his exhibition for AUSGEZEICHNET # 6 lies on another group of works which the artist has been developing since 2010. For his “Abschleifungen” (sandings), Houlihan planes, saws, mills, and sands everyday furniture pieces such as a chair, a cabinet, or even an entire concert grand piano for so long that they finally become ultra-thin, almost linear structures which have lost all their functionality. The results can no longer be regarded as objects, they rather appear to be vulnerable “thing-beings” whose precarious form of existence already indicates their possible dissolution and final disappearance. Thus, in a sense, they become witnesses to the inherent fragility of our world.

Benjamin Houlihan was born in Olpe in 1975 and studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Georg Herold. In 2015, he received the Kunstpreis der Stadt Nordhorn, and in 2019 the Lothar-Fischer-Preis in Neumarkt. His works have been on display at the Kunsthalle Nürnberg, the Städtische Galerie Nordhorn, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, and others. In 2010, the artist participated in the major exhibition “The Luminous West” at the Kunstmuseum Bonn. Benjamin Houlihan lives and works in Düsseldorf.

AUSGEZEICHNET is an exhibition format conceived together with the Stiftung Kunstfonds. Since 2016 and for a period of ten years, former fellows of the Kunstfonds present their works in an exhibition space at the Kunstmuseum Bonn every fall. The following positions have been presented so far: Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke (2016), Viktoria Binschtok (2017), Frauke Dannert (2018), Agnes Meyer-Brandis (2019) and Sung Tieu (postponed to 2021 due to Covid).


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