Hand painted porcelain
17 x 13.5 x 11.5 cm [6.7 x 5.3 x 4.5 inches]
Series of 25, each unique, accompanied by signed and numbered certificate.
About the work
For the Whitechapel Gallery, Paweł Althamer has created a series of unique hand-painted porcelain statuettes. Entitled Billy the Goat (2018) the figures are inspired by Koziołek Matołek, a Polish cartoon character from the ‘30s, and his quest to find Pacanów, a town where it is rumoured they are making shoes for goats.
Matołek features regularly in Althamer’s work, both as a sculpture and persona performed by the artist. For Althamer, Matołek’s quest epitomises the spirit of exploration and discovery, holding the key to understanding. A metaphorical representation of a local artist working in a global context who draws on his nearest entourage, Althamer dressed as Matołek has toured Brazil and Mali. In his 2011 work Self-Portrait as Billy the Goat (recently exhibited at Whitechapel Gallery as part of the ISelf Collection), a life size Matołek adopts the pose of Rodin’s The Thinker, at once traveller and philosopher.
Each statuette has been hand-painted in collaboration with the Nowolipie Group, a group of adults with mental or physical disabilities for whom art is a form of therapy and rehabilitation. For over 15 years, Althamer has run regular ceramics workshops with the group and also collaborated regularly on artworks.
The edition was produced at one of Poland’s oldest industrial institutions still in operation, the porcelain factory Ćmielów. Ćmielów holds an important place in the country’s design history and in turn, cultural tradition. For over two centuries the historical manufacturer continues to produce age-old designs and iconic motifs.
About the artist
Paweł Althamer (b. 1967, Warsaw, Poland, lives and works in Warsaw, Poland)
Interested in how art can communicate social change, Althamer’s figurative sculpture and performance actions regularly feature himself along with his family and those around him. They are often made in experimental collaboration with local communities and groups. For example, Althamer worked with the Nowolipie Group, a group of adults with mental or physical disabilities, to create Sylwia (2010), a bronze fountain designed with the group and permanently installed in Warsaw’s Bródno Sculpture Park. In 2008 Althamer arranged for the group to wear matching overalls and take a trip on a biplane, which became the subject of a short film by Althamer’s frequent collaborator, Artur Zmijewski (Winged, 2008).
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