Study for sculpture (Latches), 1997

Koen Theys - mainly known for his video work - also makes objects. Starting in 1990, he exhibits casts of everyday objects in polyurethane rubber - a door, a window, loudspeakers, alarm boxes, dustpan and brush. etc. With their uniform grey color and their semi-soft material, they
seem like parodies of solid bronze sculptures with 'historical' patinas. To be unique, the massively reproduced everyday objects have to leave their original function behind. Their new utility is related to the videos
where the artist mixes elements from the entertainment industry and art history, often insolently, to illustrate just how much power images can exercise. Aside from these replicas, Theys also makes new objects that put into perspective the banal and existential character of the spaces where so-many hours of life are spent. Among these is a coat rack with raised middle-fingers as hooks, or expressionist-like molded door latches in all formats, from real size to giant. In a review of a double-exhibition in 1997, a journalist writes: 'Elsewhere in the gallery hang door latches of all sizes. They are fairly useless, because they would just lamely fold if tugged on. Anyway: they don't hang on a door, but are screwed to a wall where there is no getting through.' (Max Borka) However pleasant the colors of these
door handles screwed to the wall are, by divesting the object of its practical and symbolic function and by replicating the pre-eminently solitary object ad infinitum et ad absurdum he evokes the same claustrophobic atmosphere that we feel in some of his videos. An atmosphere that commentators describe as a tunnel- or vacuum feeling, a feeling that they link to the suburban culture the artist grew up in and knows so well, a culture that has repetition as an essential attribute. In a certain sense, the way that the surface of the door latches is molded in a deliberately sloppy manner, is akin to the punch-in-your-face tendency of his video work. - Theys himself says: 'Opening doors makes no sense, because opening one just leads to another. You're better off just playing with the latch.' And perhaps he wants his work to be experienced like this as well.

Patrice Pavis – catalogue ‘The Mind of the Artist’
Aug 2013