Making Waves

Paul Kaptein by Penny Coss

In the studio of sculptor Paul Kaptein there's a work in progress that looms out into space as if from a sci-fi animation. Paul's new works have the look of 3d sound waves that seem to challenge the law of physics.

He says he is amused that people think he uses 3d printers and routers to make these ‘wonky’ works. “I like sculpting the wood in this traditional way because the process of working is, by and large, being in the moment, and that’s where it is for me… There was this line from Heidegger, ‘technology removes us from ourselves’. When nearly everyone is tethered to a phone or computer, I thought there was no other point in time where that phrase seemed more pertinent.” 

and in the endless sounds there came a pause, 2014, laminated hand carved wood, 63x61x61cm, by Paul Kaptein.The irony is that Paul’s work cleverly juxtaposes references to technology with traditional processes and the effect is a little spooky. 

“The sculptures are generally a distillation of ideas. Like this guy I saw in profile,” he says, gesturing to his drawn-out double headed piece (pictured left), “and the top knot was something significantly referencing the samurai; remixing the present…The collapsing of time is my armature for conveying how, in contemporary society, everything is sped up and immediate.”

The naturally occurring holes in the wood continue to be an essential part of his visual language. “They are important signifiers, suggesting among other things, systems of connection such as atomic structures and celestial constellations, subtly linking the personal with the universal.”

Matter and vibrations emanating from Paul’s new wonky work are also alluded to in the titles, such as 'and in the endless sounds there came a pause', 2014 (pictured right). Paul says, “A lot of my favourite bands couldn’t play their instruments. They just did something with them and learnt along the way. The Triffids and Go-Betweens did that. Velvet Underground. Patti Smith was tone deaf so she’d invite other musicians to see her ‘awesome’ guitar and they’d automatically tune it for her.” 

Bankwest Art Prize finalist.  Paul Kaptein, and in the endless sounds there came a pause, 2014. Laminated hand carved wood, 63x61x61cm.Right: Bankwest Art Prize finalist. 
Paul Kaptein, and in the endless sounds there came a pause, 2014. Laminated hand carved wood, 63x61x61cm. 

Paul’s recent achievements have been significant, with national and international interest in his work rapidly growing. Everything seemed to happen after his solo show, The Contours of Emptiness at the Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery in 2013.  With visitors streaming through this understated but remarkable exhibition space, Paul was noticed by New York based Krause Gallery who picked him up and showed his work the following year.

Also in 2014, Paul won the prestigious acquisitive Mandorla Art Award (pictured below) and in the same year was shown at the Melbourne Art Fair by Turner Galleries.

It was exquisite work that was snapped up by significant national and international collectors.

The show caught the eye of Sydney based gallery M. Contemporary, who then invited Paul to show in the recent Memories in Motion exhibition. This year Paul won the Mid-West Art prize and was a finalist in the 2014 Bankwest Art Prize.

The momentum continues for Paul with an upcoming solo show this September with Turner Galleries followed by a two month residency in Utica, New York to produce work for a two person exhibition with Krause Gallery. Also with Krause, Paul will feature in the 2016 Scope Art Fair, New York. 

Penny Coss is a visual artist based in Perth. Penny’s practice centres on painting. She has exhibited extensively in Australia as well as internationally, participating in exhibitions in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. She is currently working on a public art commission for Terminal 1, Perth International Airport.

To view more of Paul's work and read about his practice and career, see his page in the Artsource Gallery.

Image credits

  • Paul Kaptein in his studio 2015. Image: Penny Coss
  • Paul Kapteinand in the endless sounds there came a pause, 2014. Laminated hand-carved wood, 63 x 61 x 61cm. Bankwest Art Prize - Finalist. Image: Kingsley Burton
  • Paul KapteinThe Knowing, 2015. Laminated hand-carved wood, graphite, 53 x 29 x 19cm. Image: Kingsley Burton
  • Paul KapteinUntitled, 2014. Laminated, hand carved wood, 58 x 28 x 30cm. Mandorla Art Award 2014 – Winner. Image: Kingsley Burton