Brad Pitt makes surprise debut as a sculptor at Finland art gallery

Most know him for his blockbuster movies, chiselled cheekbones and high-profile relationships, but Brad Pitt can now add creating sculpture to his list of achievements after publicly debuting his first works of art in a lakeside museum in Finland.

The A-list Hollywood star unveiled the sculptures – what he called a “radical inventory of self” – at the Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, a move that came as a surprise. It is the first time the “largely self-taught” artist presented his sculptures to the public, the gallery said.

Pitt, 58, revealed the sculptures himself on Saturday as part of a larger exhibition by the British artist Thomas Houseago, alongside a ceramic series by the Australian musician Nick Cave. “For Nick and I this is a new world and our first entry. It just feels right,” the actor told the Finnish broadcaster Yle at the opening ceremony.

Among the nine works by Pitt on show is Aiming At You I Saw Me But It Was Too Late This Time, a moulded plaster panel “depicting a gunfight” between eight figures, including hands, feet and faces attempting to break through the structure at various angles. There are also a series of house-shaped silicone sculptures that have been shot with a different gauge of ammunition, as well as the actor’s first sculpture, House A Go Go, a miniature house made out of tree bark and held together with tape.

“To me it’s about self-reflection. It’s about where I have gotten it wrong in my relationships, where have I misstepped, where am I complicit,” Pitt said at the opening. “For me, it was born out of ownership of what I call a radical inventory of self, getting really brutally honest with me and taking account of those I may have hurt, moments I have just gotten wrong.”

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The actor reportedly began trying his hand at pottery after his divorce from Angelina Jolie, spending up to 15 hours a day in Houseago’s Los Angeles studio in 2017. Reports indicate he invited Leonardo DiCaprio over to his studio during the making of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to “bond over their shared love of pottery”.

Pitt also told GQ in August that he regarded his pursuit of ceramics not as art, but as a “solo, very quiet, very tactile kind of sport”. But his involvement in the Finnish exhibition had not been previously announced.

“In that sense this is exciting and wonderful,” the chief curator, Sarianne Soikkonen, said. She added that Houseago’s decision to include his friends in his exhibition was shaped by the pandemic and events in Houseago’s personal life.

Pitt is not the first actor to turn his hand to art. From Pierce Brosnan to Sylvester Stallone and Jim Carrey, the rich and famous have often sought new creative outlets to supplement their day jobs. Last summer, Johnny Depp earned more than $3.6m in a few hours after releasing 780 prints through the Castle Fine Art gallery in London, which sold out almost immediately, according to the gallery.

Regardless of trends, the Guardian critic Jonathan Jones said Pitt turns out to be an “extremely impressive artist” who has sidestepped the embarrassment of celebrity art “to reveal what by any standard are powerful, worthwhile works”.

The show also features Cave’s first exhibition of ceramics. The musician, who studied painting at the Caulfield Institute of Technology in Melbourne before pursuing music, created 17 handpainted ceramic figurines depicting “the life of the Devil in 17 stations”, a nod to his interest in Victorian Staffordshire Flatback figurines, of which he is a collector.

Both Pitt and Cave created their works in dialogue with Houseago, who has been practising for nearly three decades. For his exhibition debut in the Nordic countries, the artist is showing a number of paintings – although he’s better know as a sculptor – from his large-scale Visions series that was inspired partly by Edvard Munch.

Speaking of his decision to stage a collaborative show between himself, Cave and Pitt, Houseago said in a statement: “I am not an I. I’m a WE!”