°1983, Ostend, Belgium
Lives and works in Ghent, BE
ABOUT THE CONSTRUCTION SERIES
From an early age, Conrad developed an interest in dance and the stacking of building blocks. In both cases, an improvisation is accompanied by physical control and strict rules. Later came his interest in architecture, sculpture and drawing. Each work in the Construction series consists of three interconnected parts: a three-dimensional structure in stone, a geometric drawing and movement as a creative act.
In developing the work in his studio, the artist starts without a plan. He builds his constructions out of wooden toy building blocks, using the formal and technical control of this building material as guides. These structures form the rough material from which a work emerges, which is then executed in natural stone.
Each construction has its own formal and material identity. ‘Construction I’ has been executed in white sandstone, ‘Construction II’ in Belgian fossil, ‘Construction III’ is produced in Italian silver travertine and ‘Construction IV’ in beige Borrèze stone. These materials carry their own history of cultural references, production marks and a strong geological history.
Each construction also receives its own two-dimensional instruction drawing. From that moment on, the construction has to follow the rules of its artistic building process.
This building process, brought as performance, takes place in the territory between the sculpture-in-progress and the custom building block crates. The sculpture is thus the result of a semi-choreographed performance, where time and controlled coincidence go hand in hand. The expressive movements vibrate with the controlled freedom reminiscent of the dance experience of the artist. The physical conditions and technical challenges ensure that each execution is slightly different. Once completed, the process repeats itself in reverse
and the building blocks return to their crates in due time.
The sculpture has a very strong physical presence. Each building block is carried, felt and placed by the artist while spectators watch. The weight, size, surface material and shape touch the builder physically. The parallels with building sets for children and do-it-yourself kits suggest that members of the audience could carry out the work themselves. Once finished, the construction approximates the scale of the human body, playing with positive and negative areas, indoors and outdoors, the mass and the surface of the stones drawing the observer in closer. On the other hand, the abstract nature of the work invites us to take some distance to walk around the sculpture.
Text: Filip Luykx
CONRAD WILLEMSPLAY BOX 23 Oct - 20 Nov 2022The Belgian artist Conrad Willems (°1983) presents a series of architectural works based on play. The basic shapes are those of the well-known wooden toy blocks developed by pedagogue Friedrich Fröbel in the 19th century. By freely playing with these blocks, Conrad creates constructions or compositions which he then rescales...Read more