‘Andy Holden: What I was for what I am becoming’ at Charles Moffett Gallery




Andy Holden, Uchronian Self-Portrait – Anvil, 2024. Hand painted 3D printed sculpture; 45 cm x 36 cm x 19 cm. Photo by BJ Deakin Photography. courtesy of the artist.

Charles Moffett is pleased to present What I was for what I am becoming, British artist Andy Holden’s first solo exhibition in the U.S. The artist, who works across sculpture, film, painting, installation and music, is known for his intensely personal, eclectic work, often involving cartoon representations of himself and an oscillation between irony and sincerity. Deftly deploying a powerful vulnerability, Holden’s work takes these idiosyncratic starting points to reach towards larger abstract philosophical questions on the nature of memory and our universal striving to understand the visible and invisible structures that shape our world. A focused survey spanning both of Charles Moffett’s Tribeca galleries, the show will provide an entry into the artist’s thinking and the philosophy underpinning much of his work over the past twenty years.

Andy Holden, Still from Structure of a Feeling (Episode 3: Wouldn’t Dream of it), 2020. Animated Cartoon, 7 minutes, Edition of 5. Photo courtesy the artist.

At 431 Washington Street, the gallery will show an installation of Holden’s ongoing series of cartoon animations, sculptures and paintings. The suite of works is titled Structure of Feeling (2020) and has evolved as a sequel to the artist’s acclaimed Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape (2016), which was widely exhibited in international venues such as Tate Britain, MOCA Toronto, Glasgow International, Venice Biennale, Front International, and Future Generation Art Prize in Kiev. In the hour-long animated film Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape, Holden presents his thesis that the world is now best understood as a cartoon, corresponding to physics and logic as depicted in early animations. For his sequel Structure of Feeling on view here, Holden presents five short animated works that attempt to describe the world to come. A cartoon version of the solitary artist moves through various cartoon landscapes, ventriloquizing and summarizing texts that try to make sense of a haunted world where an environmental disaster has taken place. The spoken text by the artist adapts lines from philosophers and poets Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, and William Wordsworth as well as the artist’s disjunctive, diaristic, aphoristic writing. The cartoons are each seven minutes, the standard length of original Looney Tunes or Merry Melodies series, however multimorphic cartoon motion has ended, and the artist is returned to a solipsistic, lonely body. The videos are presented alongside a number of hand painted self-portraits of the artist depicting extreme emotions, alongside 3D printed sculptures of the artist suffering dramatic violent acts based on the cliches of cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and Wile E. Coyote. It is not clear if this time the violence is reversible.

Andy Holden, Uchronian Self-Portrait – Rock, 2024; Hand painted 3D printed sculpture. 45cm x 30cm x 28cm. Photo by BJ Deakin Photography. Courtesy of the artist.

On the second floor space of 437 Washington Street, the gallery will present several additional works by Holden, key pieces in his career thus far and all making their U.S. debut. These include Cat-tharsis (2021); a film in which Holden unboxes a collection of 300 ceramic cats inherited from his Grandmother upon her death, weaving together stories about the cat as a symbol from ancient Egypt through to the Internet age, with personal stories of his Grandmother, digressing from politics to the impulse to collect, and finally to the loss of memory. The work was among the highlights of the landmark touring exhibition British Art Show 9, which was organized by the Hayward Gallery and presented at a number of museums across the U.K. in 2021 and 2022.

Andy Holden, Catharsis, 2021. 73 ceramic cats. Photo courtesy the artist.

First shown at Tate Britain in 2010, Pyramid Piece underscores Holden’s distinctive ability to take seemingly inconsequential objects and transform them through narrative and sculptural intervention. It was the first to make clear the artist’s dialectical relationship between objects and stories. Shown in the gallery as a knitted scale model, the work saw Holden travel back to the Great Pyramid in Giza and return a piece of rock he had stolen from the pyramid as a child. The work, through its admission of personal guilt, opens up to questions of larger colonial guilt, asking “what can be undone?”. Also on view in this gallery are two paintings depicting the artist’s teenage manifesto, which called for ‘Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity’. Although first drafted in the artist’s adolescence, the manifesto continues to inform Holden’s artistic practice – an oscillation between these two opposing forces explored through humor, vulnerability, and acute self- and social- critique across media.

Andy Holden portrait. Photo credit: Eva Vermadel courtesy Charles Moffett Gallery.

Andy Holden’s (b. 1982, works in Bedfordshire, UK. BA Fine Art Goldsmiths College, 2005) work comprises large installations, sculpture, painting, music, performance, animation, curating and multi-screen-videos. For his first major exhibition Art Now: Andy Holden at Tate Britain (2010), he exhibited Pyramid Piece, a vastly enlarged replica of a piece of stone he stole from the Great Pyramid at Giza as a boy, and later returned. From 2011-2017 Holden worked on Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape, a hour-long animated film which explored the idea that the world was now best understood as a cartoon. The sequel, Structure of Feeling, was first presented at Block 336 in 2021 and the exhibition took the form of a ghost train ride and could only be navigated by motorized carts. Holden’s Natural Selection, commissioned by Artangel in 2017, was made in collaboration with his father Peter Holden and utilized a detailed exploration of birds nests and eggs to explore questions of nature and nurture, and mankind’s changing relation to the natural world. His recent work Full of Days, for British Art Show 9 (2022) and exhibited in full at The Gallery of Everything (2023), was an animated film about an unknown ‘outsider’ artist, Hermione, whose work he discovered in a charity shop, and explored notions of time, sickness, and legacy.

Holden has released a number of records with The Grubby Mitts. In 2021 he curated Beano: Art of Breaking the Rules at Somerset House. Collected Free Labour, a book of interviews with Holden was published last year by Slimvolume. His work can be found in the permanent public collections of Tate, Arts Council Collection, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and Leeds Art Gallery, as well as a number of museums in Europe. In September 2023 his first permanent public sculpture, The Auguries, was unveiled in Wakefield. In 2024, Natural History of Nest Building will be exhibited at Tate St Ives, and Pyramid Piece and Natural Selection will be shown at Kröller-Müller Museum, Netherlands.

Andy Holden: What I was for what I am becoming will be on view from January 12 through February 24, 2024 at Charles Moffett, 431 Washington Street, Floor 2, in TriBeCa, NYC. An Opening Reception will be held on January 12th from 6-8pm.

Mark Leckey, contemporary artist in film, sound, sculpture & performance.

Andy Holden in conversation with Mark Leckey to be held on Saturday, January 13th at 3pm in the gallery.

On occasion of British artist Andy Holden’s first solo exhibition in the U.S., Charles Moffett is pleased to host a conversation between Holden and fellow British artist Mark Leckey. The conversation will take place at the gallery’s 431 Washington Street space, which showcases Holden’s 2020 work Structure of Feeling, a series of cartoon animations, sculptures, and paintings that evolved as a sequel to the artist’s acclaimed Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape (2016).