'Palimpsest - Hands Worn Smooth by Coins'

The SCAD Museum of Art presents "Palimpsest — Hands Worn Smooth by Coins" the first solo exhibition in the U.S. by Denmark-based artist FOS.

The practice of FOS blurs distinctions between art, design, object and viewer. The artist skillfully uses the contrast between standard and precious materials as a vehicle to transform complex, metaphysical ideas into relatable objects. FOS works within a creative principle he calls "social design," which exceeds common understandings of social design as an intention for objects to generate social change. FOS, takes this creative philosophy further as he pays close attention to the poetic nuances within dialogues and all the material elements that are in constant negotiation as his works are created and presented. In other words, the artwork in the artist's vision is treated as a totality that is constantly reshaping the physical and symbolic environment and the viewer.

FOS, "Future Pipe," 2017, wood, gold, pipe 12 x 19 x 6 cm. / 4.72 x 7.48 x 2.36 in. Courtesy of the artist and Nils Stærk Gallery, Copenhagen
FOS, "Future Pipe," 2017, wood, gold, pipe 12 x 19 x 6 cm. / 4.72 x 7.48 x 2.36 in. Courtesy of the artist and Nils Stærk Gallery, Copenhagen

Concurrently with his explorations on materiality and the dynamics of the artwork, FOS investigates language and the capacity of objects to contain and transmit meaning. Shapes and forms are used not only for their plastic qualities, but also for their role in the process of becoming symblols — from a shape, to a letter, to a word, to a specific significance and meaning. This becomes clear in his series "One Language Traveler" in which a diverse array of objects of different colors, shapes and materials are presented in a sort of archaeological display. These objects are part ruin, part sculpture and part of the abstract form of language invoked by the vitrine display. Other projects by the artist include compositions with functional elements like lamps, keys or benches, juxtaposed with more organic materials like wood, stones or cement.

The exhibition "Palimpsest — Hands Worn Smooth by Coins" offers a generous range of the artist's recent practice and his interests in palimpsests — ancient manuscripts that were erased to preserve its surfaces for reuse and recycling. In this sense, the exhibition engages ideas of preservation, material language and archaeological aesthetics. The subtitle of the exhibition suggests a more playful and intimate side of the artist's practice, a statement that triggers the image of an object designed for human use and the reciprocal effects of these textures in close contact. Another emblematic aspect of the artist's practice included in the show is a site-specific pavilion that the artist has designed as a framework and substrate for the artwork to exist in the gallery. The pavilion acts as a membrane that creates spaces of contemplation for individual works, as well as visibly interweaving artwork with space and viewers — a premeditated choreography.

About the artist

FOS (a.k.a. Thomas Poulsen) was born in Denmark in 1971 and lives and works in Copenhagen. He is internationally acclaimed for his uncompromising artworks that investigate the crossroads between art and design. His recent projects and exhibitions include: the group exhibition "DON’T WORRY" at Kate McGarry Gallery, London; "Maggie Margaret lives" at fig-2, ICA Studio, London; participation in the group exhibition "Trust-The salon" at GL STRAND, Copenhagen; and the comprehensive solo exhibition "Koøje (Porthole)" at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen. He designed the catwalk space for the SS16 collection from French fashion house Celine at Paris Fashion Week. Since 2013, FOS has been collaborating with Céline, developing a new body of work consisting of unique design and furniture items for Céline stores. FOS participated in the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011 with Osloo and as part of Speech Matters, Danish Pavilion.

Programs and events


"Palimpsest — Hands Worn Smooth by Coins" is curated by Humberto Moro, curator of SCAD exhibitions.

Museum Admission

The exhibition is free for all museum members and SCAD Card holders. Open to the public with the cost of museum admission.

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