Sculptor Pieter Obels is showing his latest work in a second solo exhibition at Galerie Roger Katwijk entitled ‘Alluring Deliberations’. Obels’ sinuous works of weathered steel are full of movement and lightness, with a gracefulness that contrasts remarkably with the weight and inflexibility of the material itself. Their complex, intertwined spiral shapes make clear reference to nature, where things are rarely straight nor perfectly linear. With his refined, twisted images, Obels has in the past few years captured international attention, and various sculptures are now showcased in German and Swiss parks, an exhibition is coming this summer to Rosenfeld Porcini Gallery in London, and Roger Katwijk will be showing Obels’ latest work at VOLTA Basel, during the Art Basel week in June.
Pieter Obels took more than ten years to settle upon the primary shape most compelling to him, all while experimenting endlessly with the possibilities steel contains. Having increased his technical proficiency in handling and reshaping weathered steel, Obels continued to increase his aptitude for creating whatever comes to his fertile mind, learning to form the steel nearly as effortlessly as if it were wax or clay. His imagination is fully unleashed in the absence of conventional technical barriers. With the help of large rollers, hydraulic hoists or a fork-lift truck, he rollis out and transforms the steel. The basic material is created by successively folding, beating and rolling the steel. Individual strips of steel are carefully welded together, after first bending them into the desired shape while being vigilant about maintaining that impression of movement. The work is polished, then treated with an acid wash. Finally, it is exposed to the outdoor air, resulting in a fine layer of rust. That Obels’ works are based on nature becomes further clear when they are placed in a natural environment, where they harmonize with the surrounding landscape to marvelous effect. The shapes are often derived from plants themselves, from the powerfully twisted branches of a serpentine hazel, to seaweed swaying under water, or garlic stems, coiling tightly together.
Obels’ new ‘Haboob Series’ is also included in the exhibition. These works reference the ruthless desert sand storms of the Arab world, which capture everything that crosses their path. In these pieces, it is the swirling sand rather than plants that determines the movement. Here, Obels has chosen to integrate scrap wood into his weathered steel sculptures, to startling effect.
Pieter Obels (Kruisland, 1968)
Pieter Obels completed his final exams at the Tilburg Academy of Visual Design in 1992. In the years following graduation, he gradually developed his own visual language. Since 2006, Roger Katwijk has been regularly presenting Obels' work in the Galerie and at major fairs. His work has been shown at noteworthy Dutch exhibitions, such as the Symposion in Gorinchem (2015) and the pop-up exhibition BIG ART (2016) in Amsterdam. Obels' work has gained increased international acclaim, with important exhibitions in recent years at Schlosspark Köln-Stammheim (2013) and Skulpturenpark Günzburg (2013); this last city also awarding an art prize to Obels. In addition, gallery owner Roger Katwijk presented Obels’ work during Preview Berlin (2013) and The Solo Project Basel (2014 and 2015). Obels participated in the Schweizerische Triennale der Skulptur in Bad Ragaz & Vaduz (2015) and in 2016, exhibited his work in the London Rosenfeld Porcini Gallery. Pieter Obels makes commissioned work for outdoor spaces, as well. For example, his work graces Spijkenisse and is featured at the Westfriesgasthuis in Hoorn. Additionally, there are a number of Obel sculptures in public spaces abroad: such as in Soho Square Gardens in London, the Swiss municipality of Bad Ragaz, Lichtenstein, and Portugal. Obels’ oeuvre is included in significant private and corporate collections both in the Netherlands and abroad. This summer, Obels will show a number of his larger sculptures at Chateau Vullierens, near Lausanne.