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John Isaacs

Lancaster, United Kingdom. 1968

John Isaacs’ work produces altered modes of historic perception; approaching materials from a temporary understanding, the artist transforms oldness and newness into ambiguous categories. Simultaneously, Isaacs reverts the symbologies that are used by religious institutions or popular culture for establishing parameters of value and meaning, by liberating these signs from their regular references they can be arranged as a common ground where a truly human aspect manifests itself, the disposal and tendency towards transcendence.
The initial estrangement produced by Isaacs’ works concerns a shared essence between humans that the artist decides to sublimate but also to parody, using a great diversity of mediums and materials. John Isaacs employs language and referentiality for an adverse purpose, instead of reaffirming meaning; he cancels it in order to reveal the emotional dimension of things and their relation to the human body.

John Isaacs has participated in several solo shows and group exhibitions in international museums, institutions and galleries, such as: Young British Artists VI, The Saatchi Gallery, London (1996); Spectacular Bodies, The Hayward Gallery, London (2000); Disasters of War, KW, Berlin (2000); Minimal Maximal, Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (2001); Melodrama, Centro Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Palacio de los Condes de Gabia/Centro José Guerrero, Granada (2002); and MARCO, Vigo (2003); Melodrama, MARCO, Vigo (2003); Mike Kelly’s The Uncanny, Tate Liverpool (2004); Les Grande Spectacle, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (2004); In the darkest hour there may be light, The Serpentine Gallery, London (2007); Rockers Island: The Olbricht Collection, Museum Folkwang Essen (2007); Paul Thek in the context of contemporary art, ZKM, Karlsruhe (2007); Dream Time, Les Abattoirs, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Toulouse (2009); Freedom not Genius, Works from Damien Hirst’s Murderme Collection, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin (2012); Alice im Wunderland der Kunst, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg (2012); Highlights from the Collection II, The Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas (2012); The name is Burroughs − Expanded Media, Sammlung Falckenberg, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2013); A Brief History of the Future, Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels (2015); About Trees, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern (2015); Fleischeslust, Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden-Rot, Germany (2015); The Thousand-Thigh Hospice: experiments in healing, CAN, Centre d’Art de Neuchatel, Switzerland (2015); Absurd builders, handymen utopia, Abbaye Saint André, Centre d’art contemporain, Meymac, France (2015); Forgiveness and Reconciliation, Musei Vaticani, Rome (2015); INCONSOLUS votes for children, Travesía Cuatro, Madrid (2015); The 13 Corner, Travesía Cuatro Guadalajara, México (2016); among others.
John Isaacs lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

cast from light and dark your shadow is no different from mine
2016. Polychrome on wood, gesso. 27 x 15 x 23 cm
Let the golden age begin
2016. Steel, wood, 24 carat gold leaf. 210 x 180 x 180 cm
2013. Patined bronze, steel. Variable dimensions
There is no story that is not true
2013. Patinated bronze. 152 x 51 x 21 cm
Detail view
You can give everything you have to others, and lose nothing of yourself
2010. Glazed ceramic. 112 x 70 x 50 cm
If I said you could fall in love would you believe me
2015. glazed ceramic, steel and copper. 90 x 70 x 80 cm
Things that can be are that which we know
2011. Glazed ceramic, steel. 75 x 10 x 120 cm
Married to the same idiocy
2013. Ceramic, steel, shellack. 65 x 89 x 7 cm
The long way home
2015. Framed archival c-type print. 141 x 101 x 5 cm
Everything is not enough
2012. Car door and neon. 275 x 170 cm
Votes for children
2015. Glazed ceramic, steel. 96 x 65 x 65 cm
2013. Glazed ceramic. 72 x 46 x 37 cm
2010. Plaster, resin, Damien Hirst's trousers. Variable dimensions
Are we not the same you and I
2015. Bronze and gold leaf. 310 x 4 x 4 cm
What lies before what lies behind
2012. Patined bronze, steel, car paint. 170 x 51 x 51 cm
What lies before what lies behind (Detail)
2012. Patined bronze, steel, car paint. 170 x 51 x 51 cm


John Isaacs will be taking part in the exhibition Eat Me in the Trapholt Museum of Kolding, Denmark. This exhibition is about how we understand ourselves and the world through food. Food is the supreme metaphor of our time. We use food to comment on practically anything: our social problems, our cultural habits, our identities, our understanding of nature… We use food to set boundaries, refine our sensibilities and project our visions of the future.

The exhibition is on view till May 2, 2018.


John Isaacs will be taking part in the exhibition Sticky Business The Temptation of Sugar in Art, in the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam from September 16 to February 18, 2o18.

Food designer and guest curator Marije Vogelzang invited some twenty artists from this country and abroad, who shine a new light on the sugar, considerate the white poison, the major enemy of health. The exhibition is an artistic rethinking of this social issue.


John Isaacs takes part in Proof of Life, an exhibition at Weserburg, Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen, from May 24, 2017 until February 24, 2018.
The exhibition brings together 100 paintings, sculptures and photographic works that investigate existential questions in a both palpable and profound manner.  What these works show is related directly to a tradition of influential pictures, some of which go far back in time.  They are also quote, seduce, irritate, provoke and thematize concepts of moral values. This includes a mention to situate in historical terms what is being seen, and also to relate it to the present quite concretely. The works come from a private collection that has never before been publicly presented in this form. Proof of Life presents a precise selection of in some cases space-encompassing but always impressive works by international artistic stars such as Louise Bourgeois, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Anton Corbijn, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and Daniel Richter.