courtesy Guido Geelen
photography Gert Jan van Rooij
 
Guido Geelen – untitled (sculpture for LUSTER) (2016)
 
Guido Geelen (b. 1961, Thorn, NL; lives and works in Tilburg) has often worked with vitrified clay pipes: durable, environmentally friendly sewage pipes made from glazed stoneware. While, for previous works, Geelen himself has worked on the pipes at the factory before they were fired, deliberately denting them and employing unusual dimensions, the installation that he made for Luster consists of eight perfectly identical, flawless pipes, one meter high and one meter in diameter.
 
The pipes were first stripped of their standard glaze and then the artist covered them with layers of glaze in every color of the rainbow, although the pipes have different main colors. Thick colored streams flow down every pipe, both on the inside and outside. On the wide upper edges are rounded areas of color in magnificent patterns, a result of the attractive or repulsive effect of the various glazes. Geelen initially intended the pipes to be stacked in groups of two or four, but ultimately decided to allow the viewer to see the inside of the tubes too and has placed all eight of them separately in the park, like strewn confetti.
 
No brushes were involved in the application of the color. The absence of any traces of the artist’s touch is one of the most important characteristics of Geelen’s oeuvre. Many of his sculptures are constructed of clay reproductions of everyday items, such as car tires, urinals, and vacuum cleaners, and also people and animals, created as casts.
 
Stacking is another process that Geelen frequently employs, which makes his work akin to Minimalism. Well-known pieces include his “walls,” for which Geelen pressed wet clay objects into square frames before firing them in a kiln, creating distorted bricks in the form of a wall, which look illogical yet rhythmic, traditional yet industrial, geometric yet organic, simple yet complex. Packed with contradictions, in other words, a third quality that, in spite of the frequent absence of traces of his physical touch, makes Geelen’s work instantly recognizable.
 
Manon Braat
translation Laura Watkinson