a sort of speech
Recognised for his delicate porcelain vessels meticulously arranged in carefully composed groups displayed in vitrines or shelves, Edmund de Waal creates his own dialogue between tradition and modernity, blank spaces and opulence, minimalism and architecture. His unique ceramic objects, coloured in subtle nuances and irregularly shaped, form the base of his installations and combine ideas of repetition, rhythm and composition with references to literature and music.
In his exhibition, de Waal presents a group of new free-standing glass vitrines, each forming a thoughtful composition of porcelain, steel, gold and marble elements, installed in the large gallery space of Goethestraße. In this new body of work, de Waal continues to explore the boundaries between text and sculpture. At its centre, the exhibition contains a major new text work in which de Waal has covered a vast freestanding wall with kaolin slip and gold leaf into which he has written a long text on the work of Robert Walser, whose literary oeuvre serves as an inspiration for the show.
Walser’s adoption of an obsessive form of notation – his “pencil method” – has long had great significance for the artist. It was a way for Walser to explore the immersive qualities of writing. De Waal has adapted this idea and created a series of sculptures where text has been inscribed into thin porcelain fragments which are then leant, or stacked like pages of a notebook. De Waal writes in his accompanying essay: “So here is my work. It is a series of detours. It is a detour through the work of Robert Walser. I love his writings. I love the way he wrote, the way he took apart his accomplishments and made texts. I love his understanding of making as a way of marking time. Text can be sculpture, sculpture a sort of speech.”
De Waal's exceptional practice can be further explored in the gallery's second venue in Bleibtreustrasse which shows a selection of recent black and white shelves that especially highlights the artist's dealing with specific materials and their relation to each other. “I work with things. (…) And then I arrange them, find places to put them down, on shelves or within vitrines, in houses and galleries and museums, move them around so that they are in light or in shadow. They are installations, or groupings, or a kind of poetry. They have titles, a phrase or a line that helps them on their way in the world.” (Edmund de Waal)