Like a limp puppet, sculptor Tom Claassen's 'Man with loose limbs' hangs on a stick. Dangling defencelessly above his plinth in the centre of The Hague. The arms and legs are attached with bolts so that it looks as if they can move. The figure is made of tree trunks cast in bronze.
This sculpture for the Sculpture Gallery belongs to a series of sculptures created between 2000 and 2005. Like 'Little Man', the other figures in the series have loose limbs and are made up of six cylindrical elements. The dolls are made of wood trunks and polystyrene foam. For example, 'Hanging Men', an intriguing group of polystyrene foam puppets, sitting against the wall or hanging from the ceiling. They appear to be inert marionettes, which are both funny and sad at the same time.
The pedestal statue also evokes this association. But there are more possible meanings. For instance, 'Little Man' can also be seen as a faceless doll, devoid of feeling and empty. Claassen manages to tap into several layers of meaning by using forms and materials that contrast with the subject matter. In doing so, he also creates confusion. Should we laugh or cry at 'Little Man'? And how should we interpret Claassen's latex camping hangers, which look as if they are made of dried skin? They give an uncomfortable feeling. His rubber hippopotamus in a lock on IJburg is also strange and surprising.
Claassen's art is unusual, but always recognisable. This is in line with a trend that brought representation back into sculpture in the 1980s. Sculptors also became more and more interested in the surface of a sculpture. We see this too in Claassen's work. He sanded the skin of his snow-white plaster cars from 1994 silky smooth. It is almost irresistible, yet you are not allowed to touch it. Feeling with the eyes' is. And with Claassen, that is enough.
Currently, this statue is stationed in the Zuiderpark.