At the basis of Gelzis’ works, we find figuration: human poses, headless torso’s and limbs abstracted into frail, skeletal spatial-linear compositions. The figurative origins may be hard to discern at first sight, but they traceable, as if the artist took up a course in live-model drawing class and decided to rationalise the process of live drawing into a mechanical and industrial practice. In a sense, Gelzis’ work is a re-enactment of the historic shift from figuration to abstraction, albeit set to 21st-century tune. It is no coincidence that Gelzis’ abstracted figuration winks at modernist artistic positions. After all, Gelzis shares an interest with his avant-garde predecessors: industrialisation, labour, and how this impacts our (social) world.
At this point, we see before our mind’s eye a yellowed black and white photograph of workers gathering ‘for the cause’, discussing their next social action or strike while lurking on a cigarette. (Practically everyone was a smoker in those more revolutionary days, and the revolutions were artistic as much as industrial/technical and social. We could just as easily replace the workers in the photograph with a who’s who of the interbellum artistic avant-garde.) Yet…
Yet while the industrial revolution continues as a technological revolution (drones delivering consumer goods, need I say more?), the continuation of an artistic revolution is less obvious. According to Gelzis, “the world is being rebuilt to communicate with itself, as well as to communicate without the assistance of human consciousness”. Man is left out of the equation. How does this resonate artistically? Isn’t art, isn’t the artist, above all, human?
Gelzis’ installation is comically modeled after a cigarette, rendered into a rectangular, open structure. In a fragment of the wall covered with yellow fibreglass, we might recognise the filter; plasterboards and tiles are the filter zone, metal profiles outlining the rest of the ‘cigarette’. Upon the ‘cigarette’ the works are places, said tableaus of frail, headless postures, ideal postures; an ideal of man in inhuman times.
Time is a filter. Aeolian breathes turn civilisations to dust. For a brief moment, we live. We breathe.
A drone hovers over. You arch your back, you clench yourself into a ball and close your eyes. At peace? At peace.