Austerity Hammer, 2013, approx H30cm, carved hammer.
How much can you take away from something without it loosing its identity? If you still recognize a tool, but it is now too weak to use without breaking it, or even to pick it up, has it then transformed into something else, or is the still recognisable outline and its name of overriding importance? This series of sculptures constitute the further experiments started with Spirit Chair in 2004. They are following a simple principle: I buy some old tool or other wooden object, like a sculpture or a chair, and then start carving away a large part of the wood, but always leave enough that it is easy to imagine what the object once looked like. The patterns I carve can be abstract, organic or figurative, depending on what my imagination fancies at the moment, but in a way, I see all of them as abstract, since the main shift taking place is one of identity and functionality. A tool for changing and shaping becomes a mere trace of an arduous and meditative process, not good for anything remotely more practical than being seen and pondered. Or, is there being observed perhaps the most practical of activities?
Spirit Chair, 2004, L45cm x W45cm x H90cm, sanded down chair.
In the case of Spirit Chair, the shape that I necessarily had to leave, if only for the chair to still hold together, was itself rather poetic. My only intention was to sand the chair down as far as I could without breaking it. Since the wooden taps inserted into other parts of the chair were much wider than the final width I managed to give the limbs, I had to leave rounded lumps around them. The result, although the process was purely conceptual, was suggestive of the limbs and joints of a skeleton.
Sylvan Synapses, 2013, approx H50cm, carved axe.
I have chosen to display most of the sculptures in this series against a background of black glass: a surface that creates the perfect contrast to the blond, matt wood in both colour and shine. I especially like how the dark, mirroring surface escapes the scrutiny of the eye, and slips the gaze of the watcher towards the very fragile sculptures.
Unplanned Obsolescence, 2014, L26cm x W5cm x H13cm, carved hand planer.
Even abstract shapes often trigger our imagination and make us see more than just materials. Carving into already shaped pieces of wood doesn’t differ conceptually, but since the human brain can’t help recognizing patterns and forms, a narrative invariably emerges.
Beginning is the End, End is the Beginning, 2014, L26cm x W8cm x H27cm, carved wooden figure.
What is inside a wooden horse? A wooden skeleton? Hardly. But why not, given that we see two horses fighting, and not a just an abstractly shaped piece of wood. Would it even be possible for us to not see the horses if we tried to just focus on the wood? That would be like trying to not think about that famous white rhinoceros.
Geodesic Hive, 2015, H24cm, carved hammer.
Snakes and Ladders, 2015, H24cm, carved hammer.
Two very similar sculptures, but the first we perceive as a grid-like structure, the second as three ladders stacked on top of each other, even though each sculpture is carved from one piece of wood, from one hammer handle.
Lost World Axe, 2013, approx H50cm, carved axe.
Can the way something is carved make the wood look soft and flowing?
Quantum Prayer, 2015, H41cm, carved wooden figure.
Economy of Endless Opportunity, 2014, H37cm, carved sledgehammer.
Our Lady of the Void, 2014, H31cm, carved wooden Madonna, gold leaf.
For Our Lady of the Void, I simply removed the lady, leaving only her robes and the Baby Jesus. Or, what am I saying, that is not the Baby Jesus, that is just a wooden image. Is it even an image of Christ any more, now that I have re-carved it? Is the image defined by the piece of wood or by the brain of the viewer?
Austerity Axe, 2013, approx H50cm, carved axe.
Vertical Progress, 2015, H29cm, carved hammer.
Since we humans simply love story, we will add it whether the artist already has or not, and even if he has, we will change it into our own.