Thomas Lerooy’s (1981) bronze sculptures and drawings challenges and plays with the classical notion of the iconic, which has been a focal point in the history of art since antiquity. The references are bound to Western art, from ancient Roman as much as to that of the Renaissance, Classicism and Mannerism. However, even if Lerooy founds his artistic methods and subjects on the past, he is always concentrated on the present.
In his artistry, one can recognize an ancient-style nude, but pierced by glass bottles; a putti, but with a skull’s head, and the martyr story of St. Sebastian pierced by an arrow. By using the formal elements and materials associated with high art, the artist conceptually disturbs the viewers’ expectations by fusing beauty and the grotesque. In Lerooy’s art life and death, diversity and unity, the iconic and the fragmentary are brought together, and his art is bound for reflection and meditation.
Lerooy’s most famous work is the monumental bronze figure “Not Enough Brains to Survive”. The sculpture shows a perfect sculpted body of a Greek statue, which has somehow missed its mark. In antiquity, Greek sculptors were particularly concerned with proportion, poise, and the idealized perfection of the human body. Their figures in stone and bronze have become some of the most recognizable pieces of art ever produced by any civilization. Lerooy’s sculptures however, has much too big heads or far too small bodies, which creates an ironic reference to our expectations and art history’s great ideal of beauty and strive for perfection.
Lerooy’s drawings alludes to his Belgian background, evoking the memento mori motif of 17th century painting. They also rejoice an aesthetic tradition reaching back to Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, mixed in with the grotesque and macabre humor of more recent artists like James Ensor, Antoine Wiertz and Francisco Goya. This characteristic dark humor shows his sense of the absurd and interest in blurring lines, deconstruct our expectations and put them back together again