In the work of Tom Claassen, the materials used often appear to be something else: plaster pretends to be a highly flexible material; bronze and ceramics seem as soft as fabric; polystyrene unfurls in billowing curtain folds or is draped as a tablecloth; sand is transformed into a hearth rug and rubber is caught in the geometry of an industrial design. The artist’s approach to his materials is so physical that you feel you are dealing with living skin instead of a dead surface. Seeing them, you want to touch them: to verify with your fingers what your eyes refuse to believe.
Air of caricature
The artist investigates how the outside of a thing, its ‘skin’, can suggest its inside, an inside that is completely at the mercy of the artist’s imagination. That explains why his animals are highly abstract: he doesn’t have to make something that already exists. It is clear that Claassen’s mostly monumental animals are not a direct reflection of their real appearance. They have little detail and make an impression of having been inflated or deflated, which gives them an air of caricature. As if they have come straight out of a comic strip. A dog as a fountain, as a parody of the animal’s slavering. Except the slobber is replaced by water in which people can wash their hands. Who is actually the butt of the parody here?
Read the personal story of art ambassador Gérard Pillen about De Appelhouten Mannen by Tom Claassen.
Tom Claassen, Untitled (Bird)
Tom Claassen, b. 1964, Heerlen, the Netherlands
Untitled (Bird), 1998
90 cm x 80 cm x 110 cm, edition 3/7
purchased in 1998, Museum De Paviljoens
Olifanten (Elephants), 2000
concrete, 7,00 x 6,80 x 10,70 meter
Almere Buiten, highway junction A27 / A6
De Appelhouten Mannen, 2001
bronze, 0,50 x 3,10 x 1,50 meter
Almere Stad, Lumierepark