Suat Ögüt

bronze, brick

The work of Suat Ögüt is often a humorous comment on matters of bureaucracy, jurisdiction and established power structures. He has developed work based on research into archives and journalistic sources that takes a closer, deeper look at specific subjects in a continuous narrative. Ögüt trained at Marmara University in Istanbul, where he studied classical sculpture and drawing. He employs this traditional monumental idiom to create works with a political and social message.

This is equally true of Ögüt’s project for Amsterdam’s law court. The Horse is Back is part of the Stolen Property Bureau series in which Ögüt examines art theft, particularly the theft of bronze statues. In recent years, bronze has been disappearing from public places at an alarming rate, stimulated by the high price dealers are prepared to pay for the metal. Yet even at six euros a kilo, the profit is minuscule compared to the price that a work by Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin or Barbara Hepworth would fetch in the art market.

In 2012, the bronze horse made by Henk Göbel in 1983 was stolen from its plinth. A few months later, the police found it - cut into twenty-five pieces. After he was convicted, one of the thieves expressed regret for his crime. He visited the sons of the late sculptor and apologised. He had not realised how much grief the destruction of the sculpture would cause. As well as marking the return of the original horse to its original location, Ögüt’s bronze sculpture in front of the court is also a monument to the anonymous bronze thief and the remorse he felt when he realised the consequences of his crime. Nevertheless it remains an ambiguous work: is the figure about to run along the narrow ledge of the concrete wall and dash off with yet more swag?

Nowhere is the irony of the work more fully appreciated than here, beside the entrance to the court where it gives a light-hearted perspective on the basic principles of justice: guilt and contrition, dishonesty and insight, reprobation and enlightenment. And how long will it be until someone else makes off with this bronze figure?

Suat Ögüt (b. 1986, Turkey) lives and works in Amsterdam. He studied at Marmara University in Istanbul and at HISK in Ghent.