Marcus harvey : Half Nelson

11 May - 16 June 2018

Paul Stolper is pleased to announce ‘Half Nelson’, an exhibition of eleven life-size ceramic busts by Marcus Harvey.


A group of 10 is unified through the use of the death masks of Napoleon Bonaparte and Horatio Nelson, which form the kernel of these imagined historical portraits/sculptures.  Somewhere in between sculptures and statues, but neither ceremonial nor reverential the group highlights the pomp and ceremony associated with war and reward, the figures festooned with medals and epaulettes.  A closer look reveals how Harvey pricks this pomposity; medals are moulded pineapples and hand grenades; epaulettes the imprint of a boot stamp, or a Crucifixion. Curtains of clay become high collars, overcoats and hats, which cocoon faces at once very familiar and eerily similar in look; both the Napoleon and Nelson almost angelic in death, high cheekbones and serene closed eyes. But it is these absurd accoutrements that shore up and hold the delicate faces in place, assembled as they are from a DIY dressing-up box of everyday and locally sourced material, Nelson’s ‘Blue Peter’ stamped shield, or the vulture that seamlessly merges with Napoleon’s coat for example which when viewed in their entirety are utterly convincing.