Katja Larsson, New Neo Classics, sculpture, 19 May–18 June 2022

Cecilia Hillström Gallery is pleased to present Katja Larsson’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, New Neo Classics featuring new sculptures in bronze and Jesmonite. Known for her material and tactile sensitivity, Katja Larsson imbues her sculptures with a real sense of physical presence. With skilful precision, Larsson presents us with objects acting as hybrids of past and present, allowing us to reflect on contemporary society whilst revealing the archaeology of knowledge embedded in the world around us.

After her acclaimed exhibition Mythologies (2019), Katja Larsson returns with New Neo Classics, a series of sculptures made using entirely new technical processes, exploring an expanded set of themes. First exhibited during Armory Off-Site in Hudson River Park in NYC, New Neo Classics examines classical references found in contemporary apparel, from Fred Perry’s laurels to the gorgon heads of Versace. Entering the exhibition at the gallery the stage is set – two actors, cast as Julius Caesar, stand in the midst of a crowd. Larger than life baseball caps cast in bronze, emblazoned with aspirational messages of empowerment and classical symbols of virtue and glory, surround the pair like pieces on a chessboard. In a play with form, language and materiality, Larsson has transformed these hats into what they aspire to be; larger than life ideas of self and society.

Julius Caesar marked the end of the Republic of Rome and the beginning of imperial rule. He made sure to spread his image far and wide, his statues distributed across the Roman world. His signature laurel wreath, originally the symbol of Apollo, until this day repeatedly regurgitated and appropriated by anyone in need of a victorious outcome. Accused by the Republic of kinglike behaviour, the Ides of March brought an end to Ceasar’s life and rule, but the logotype symbolism of Julius Caesar’s brand of imperialism never went away.

In Larsson’s cast of characters, Caesar is represented twice, embodied by two actors in the shape of two contemporary Roman busts, his telltale signifiers embedded in their modern-day attire. Through these sculptures, Larsson poses an essential question; What is power, and how is it obtained? Can we dress in bold, regal messages, and become the Kings and Queens these proclaim us to be? Or is the laurel wreath on a King Apparel cap™ the closest most of us will ever come to Reign Supreme, to being Materially Superior?

The exhibition is accompanied by an in-depth text by Richard Müller. Read the text here.

An artist talk with Katja Larsson & Charlotte Gyllenhammar took place on Saturday 21 May. View the talk here.

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