Michael Dean was born in 1977 in Newcastle Upon Tyne and now lives and works in London.
Michael Dean’s immersive sculptural installations begin with his own writing, which he translates into physical form, from letter-like human-scale figures to self-published books deployed as sculptural elements within his installations. His materials are readily available, and include concrete and steel reinforcement bars. His sculptures are exposed to the elements as he works on them outdoors.
For his Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain in 2016, the artist flooded the gallery with penny coins totalling £20,436, the UK government’s stated minimum at that time for two adults and two children to survive for a year. By removing one penny during the installation of the work, he plunged his family of corrugated iron and concrete figures below the poverty line. In his most recent solo exhibition at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead in 2018, his materials in an installation called Having you on included the emergency food bank allowances currently provided to families in the UK.
Dean’s new work for The Hepworth Wakefield recreates a street in concrete tongues, along which we are invited to walk. The tongues – which could also be torsos – are cast using the artist’s own body. The figures are ‘three crying LOLs’ which take the dimensions of the artist and his two sons. ‘LOL’ and the ‘laugh-out-loud-to-the-point-of-laughing-crying emoji’ are often repeated in Dean’s works, appearing alongside padlocks and coins – which he sees as forms of utterance in themselves – to contain emotion in a gesture.
Other recent solo exhibitions include Teaxths and Angeruage, Portikus, Frankfurt (2017); Lost True Leaves, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2016) and Sic Glyphs, South London Gallery, London (2016).
‘I can’t even start to speak of what Hepworth means to me as an artist but I’m properly chuffed I was given the chance to contribute to the f***ing amazing work The Hepworth Wakefield is doing.’
Related exhibitions & events
The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture
26 Oct 2018 - 20 Jan 2019
Shortlist announced for second The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture
On Thursday 22 March, The Hepworth Wakefield announced the five artists nominated for the second The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture.