Koenraad Dedobbeleer at Mai 36 in Zurich

In March/April 2012 of Flash Art

Making sculpture of found objects has become as common today as it was shocking when Duchamp created his first readymade in 1915So it takes something fresh, different and let’s face it, unique, to make this sort of sculpture interesting.

And Koenraad Dedobbeleer, the Belgian artist, mostly delivers with constructions reassembled or slightly altered from pieces of old functional objects.  The most successful and engaging works are those that use parts of old tools or furniture which Koenraad transforms through a reconstruction often so absurd that the former object and its function are completely lost.  But while the original object is no longer recognizable, the aura of the past remains.  Resigned Astonishment is a chair-like object that is neither chair nor functional, but is an homage to modernist design, like many of his other  sculptures.

The artist is clearly attracted to the long history of craftsmanship, so the source objects he chooses were hand-made, not industrially fabricated.

The transformation of the old into new also points to Ornament and Crime, modernist architect Adolf Loos’s 1929 text criticizing ornamentation and promoting the return to a simple craft-conscious modern art.  The titles of the sculptures are phrases directly taken from Loos’s texts.  A marble tabletop reminiscent of café tables at the turn of the 20th century is hung on the wall as a painting might be, with the title Revolution Always Comes From Below, a quote fragment from Loos’s 1897 text which continues with ..”and in this case below is the craftsman’s workshop.” The double-entendre is clever: creating an art object out of a utilitarian one just by changing its position was indeed revolutionary once upon a time, but maybe even more revolutionary is the return to craftsmanship at a time when the art world most champions those artists that use prefabrication and outsourcing as their modus operandi.

The inherent historicity of the source objects used, which is deconstructed in the process of reassembling, along with the mysterious titles, allow the viewer to dream and create personal associations with each piece, maybe recalling objects from their youth.  And in many regards, that’s the unique element in Dedobbeleer’s work, a concept that has become rather obsolete in contemporary art.

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One thought on “Koenraad Dedobbeleer at Mai 36 in Zurich

  1. Extremely interesting…simple craft-conscious modern art? I like the concept…and its rendition by this artist – where can I see more of them?

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