Ochse, 2018

Basel 2019
neugerriemschneider, Foksal Gallery Foundation
Metal, resin, foam, acrylic paint, fur 245 × 356 × 210 cm
Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig Courtyard St. Alban-Graben 5 Paweł Althamer’s surreal, large-scale figure, Ochse, is born out of the artist’s interest in the subconsciousness and expressing the intangible. Reminiscent of an ox or ancient auroch, the sculpture derives from a dream the artist had in which he found a library of carved animal figures in a shadowless cave. In prehistoric times, the depiction of animals had a spiritual dimension for our ancestors; so too here, returning to their forms in the contemporary era suggests a connection to our inherent creativity and imagination. Ochse is made from organic materials including leather, wasp hives, coconuts, and shells. Exhibited in Basel’s Antikenmuseum, the viewer is invited to sit on the back of the Ochse. The shadowless cave with its array of creatures that Althamer dreamed about is indeed akin to the museum’s collection of Etruscan, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian sculpture, where it is aligned with the figure of the sacred bull, a stalwart figure of worship in numerous ancient societies.