Sculptures and Drawings
Johan Gelpers sculptures often grow over a long period of time, sometimes waiting for years for the missing link to be added. Constructed from objets trouvés and items, which are charged with a more personal signification, Gelper lets them correlate in a way whereby objects and shapes often contrast in their materiality. They are playful and display a crude elegance, incorporating various philosophies from dadaism over constructivism to pop art and seamlessly blend those styles.
In the several layers of Gelpers ́ works one might also notice the contrast between mechanical devices and the more organic patterns and forms, which can be decoded as a subversive message, often appealing to the collective memory. A shovel stuck in mud morphs into a solitary island in the ocean. The branch, not sticking in a gun, as in that iconic image of the peace movement but in a driller. The misappropriation of objects, not only in an art historical context, is often meant as an ironic or satiric reflection on our society. Although the assembled objects carry little significance in our everyday life, artistically altered they are elevated in their meaningfulness through his installations.
Johan Gelpers works are dynamic, swirling compositions of everyday objects that are assembled into a well balanced and humoristic ensemble. The finely balanced pieces make one think of sculptures from the Bauhaus or from Russian Constructivists referencing for example to Tatlins famous Monument for the Third International, albeit with an ironic spin. Other works wouldn't be misplaced as part of the decor for Malevichs Opera Victory over the Sun or in Oskar Schlemmers Triadisches Ballet. In his quest to find an equilibrium Johan Gelpers works are highly energetic and as Andrea Alessi puts it: "through their changes in positive and negative shapes, cue our bodies, eyes, and brains to follow their curves and angles in, out, and around - considering not only where they go, but also where they might go."
Sofie Verbrugghen & Olaf Pradhan