29 November 2014 till 06 April 2015

Hans Hovy


The gently rounded, playful shapes in shades of white and pale pink look almost cuddly. For his Sculptissimo series, Hans Hovy (b. Amsterdam, 1953) has chosen to use two soft, translucent types of stone: soapstone and alabaster. The artist has carved, drilled, filed and sanded with enormous precision. The sculptures on show in the Projects Gallery of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag from 29 November suggest the organic shapes of the human body. They are sensual and exciting, but also mysterious and humorous. 

Most of the pieces in the Sculptissimo series are plump and lovable, with shapes reminiscent of faces, animals, plants and body parts. Viewed from the right angle, for example, Pure Love looks like a newborn baby and Inside beauty like a waving sea anemone. But not all the pieces are so innocent. Hovy’s sensual sculptural idiom sees to that, but so do titles like Licking, Wanting and The World of Sodom and Gomorrah, which lend the sculptures an ambiguous, ironic twist. Moreover, suggestive protrusions and holes invite voyeuristic examination and offer tantalizing glimpses. The sculptures are open to many different interpretations; the viewer is mocked, disconcerted, seduced and titillated.

The piece entitled Sculpture is an anomaly within the series. Its small, rectangular, slightly unfinished forms betray the hardness of its material. The title refers, as does that of the entire exhibition, to the ancient craft of sculpting. But the art of sculpture has become far more diverse and worldly, which is why the superlative form Sculptissimo has been preferred as the title of the exhibition.

Hans Hovy lives and works in Amsterdam. He trained at the Academie voor Beeldende Vorming in Amsterdam (1977-1981) and Ateliers ’63 in Haarlem (1981-1983), but is also a qualified furniture-maker and worked for some years as a furniture restorer at Amsterdam’s Historical Museum. In earlier series, Hovy has worked in wood, bronze and cast iron, managing to give his pieces a cuddly look even in those materials. The show in the Projects Gallery is his first ever museum exhibition.