In spite of the fact that steel is generally considered to be rough and austere, Pieter Obels’ sculptures seem to be controverting the intrinsic possibilities of the material. When one looks at Richard Serra’s monumental steel slabs and wonders at the curves he manages to give his material, feelings of huge weight, size and strength arise.
Pieter Obels works with corten steel, yet his works conveys above all lightness and grace, as he bends the steel into extraordinarily delicate and winding shapes. The two artistic worlds couldn’t be further apart. It is almost as if we are watching the yin and yang of the same material.
Through a clever interplay of rigidity and dynamism, Obels’ work occupies a space deftly lingering between a sense of weight and weightlessness. His sculptures completely confound our preconceptions of how a steel sculpture should look and behave. The curves in the work appear to defy what the material can be persuaded to do.
Obels aim is to create totally organic forms with an extreme, yet somehow innate, sense of plasticity. This sense of a natural rhythm makes his sculptures sit in total oneness with any natural environment. Rather than imposing themselves upon their surroundings, they appear to mirror the soft edges and harmoniousness often evident in nature. Notwithstanding the apparently cold material, the curves of the form and the rusty brown colour of their oxidization, enable them to create a bond with the surrounding ambience.
Working alone without assistants, Obels has, however, permitted this aspect to dominate his works, while at the same time emphasizing the elegiac quality they possess. Although totally contemporary, there is in his work a strong wistfulness for a bygone age, which favoured poetry over power and fragility and balance over industrial noise. The sense of a precarious balance which many of his works have, plays beautifully with the apparent contradiction inherent in his material.
His works echoes the world we would like to inhabit: a world dominated by beauty and an awareness of nature. The curve, as opposed to the straight line, recalls a gentler, less severe universe where objects do not repel, but embrace, where dialogue is always possible and agreement is always found.