Nature’s Elements Marshalled Into Exquisite Forms

For 30 years, Belgian artist Gerard Kuijpers has incorporated stone, ice, silver, glass, and wood into humble yet carefully calibrated assemblages, mining the depths of nature’s most basic elements. His sculptures generate conversations between texture, heft, and movement that manage simultaneously to reinforce the intrinsic characteristics of each constituent material, emphasizing its essence: in Kuijpers’ hands, ice seems more transparent and stone is rendered glaringly impenetrable. Experienced as a coherent whole, every work achieves a delicate state of balance that is poised eternally on the brink of collapse.

His recent sculptures, “Dancing Stones,” currently on view at Galerie Yves Gastou, are similarly primitive in form, but are complex in conceit, shaped by almost paradoxical cocktails between the cold science of empiricism, the whimsical spirit of experimentation, and a brute, spare physicality. Many of these crude blocks of black Belgian marble hover in exquisite equilibrium on the tip of a silver rod, pitched precisely according to its own center of gravity, perfectly supported by itself.  

Selected by Kuijpers for their dynamic surface qualities, the rocks are placed in a context that leaves them as vulnerable as they are secure, as precarious as they are held in balance by the indisputable laws of nature. They are ultimately susceptible to the slightest disturbance: the brush of a viewer’s coattail or an unexpectedly powerful exhale threaten to disrupt their meditative stasis. Stone and spectator, therefore, are ushered by Kuijpers into an unwitting relationship of potentiality—an interstitial space between the rugged, ponderous rock and the delicate catalyst of human touch—producing a latent tension that is antithetical to the intrinsic value of such a simple, sturdy material. “Dancing Stones” are at once shaped by, wary of, and eager for an exchange of living energy that is fundamental to human existence.

Dancing Stones” is on view at Galerie Yves Gastou April 24–June 10, 2014.

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