Portraits, Idols and Robots

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23rd Apr 2024 - 13th May 2024

Portraits, Idols and Robots

In Portraits, Idols and Robots, unknown humanoids constructed of rudimentary forms and earth sourced from the Port Hills look out into the gallery. In concept and form these intriguing paintings leap between cave painting and the sci-fi world of today.

In this landscape of infinitely replicable and AI generatable faces, what is a portrait? When anything could be a robot or a digital product, van Hout uses the most tangible thing available – earth. Thick, crunchy surfaces of pigment made by pounding loess, red oxide and charcoal in a mortar and pestle, are far removed from lines of code. In this departure from his own geometric, mathematical, abstract paintings, the artist embraces the imperfection and chance of natural materials while still exhibiting his command of line.

They are all the same thing these days: portraits, idols and robots. We make people, we make idols, we make robots, and we make all these in images of ourselves.
—Francis van Hout, 2024

Anonymous people, blank or missing facial features, ambiguous titles – the multiplicity of how one might read a painting intrigues the artist. Suggestive of a cave painting by a contemporary artist, the pieces retain signifiers of the silicone age we live in such as t-shirts, styling, composition and form informed by centuries of art history and the artist’s own background in animation. Just as we peer back into the past at the mystery and wonder of ancient cave paintings, van Hout invites us to consider that puzzle of meaning and artist intentionality in his paintings. Are these portraits? Idols? Or robots?

Read more about this exhibition in our interview with Francis van Hout here.

MaschinenmenschFrancis van Hout
GortFrancis van Hout
RobbyFrancis van Hout
EveFrancis van Hout
GhostFrancis van Hout
AdamFrancis van Hout
RoyFrancis van Hout
GolemFrancis van Hout
RachaelFrancis van Hout