NO STORY INVOLVED

“If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life
belongs to those who live in the present.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein

The recent wall-based works by Indriķis Ģelzis (1988, Latvia), consisting of structures built
with square steel tubing sections, manifest themselves as abstract spatial representations.
Upon closer scrutiny we do however notice that the sculptures display human attributes. We
can discern shapes that depict human physicality: a hand or a foot, and we can notice elements
that refer to a human presence: fragments of textiles that suggest clothing or the shape of a
cigarette. This careful kind of figuration reveals the artist’s ambiguous relationship to abstraction
if we narrow this down to the restrictive interpretation of representation-less art. In Ģelzis’ work
we can just as well recognize the impact of his impressions of the tangible reality surrounding
him, albeit in the banal character of the everyday. Pure abstraction moreover limits the capacity
to introduce affective elements like humour in the work. Ģelzis’ artistic practice plays upon
prevalent artistic conventions and undermines the traditional opposition between the conceptual
and the sensory and the abstract and the figurative. The artist prefers to open up a hybrid no
man’s land that is not founded upon any delimited premise in terms of content, theme or form.

Ģelzis’ work critically questions the dogmatic expectation regarding contemporary art that returns
to the priority embedded in the artwork. He tempers the idea that the art object merely flows from
the process by which a specific ontological, conceptual content is ascribed to reality, for
the meaning of an object can be inherently contained in its purely formal appearance. For the artist
the story of an artwork’s genesis can just as well be random or meaningless, after which it is only
charged with meaning during the final phase of reception.

The artist’s working method seems to suggest that his sculptural wall-based works are generated
from improvisation and that the shapes emerge coincidentally. The titles, too, such as Double Infinity
and Emotion X, provides few clues about their origin. The designs are developed in a digital graphics
program using line drawings as their starting point, set out according to a wholly personal yet still
following a certain methodical manner, and from which a three dimensional image is constructed and
further elaborated and ‘dressed’. In doing so, characters slowly come into being, which the artist
refers to somewhat enigmatically as gatekeepers between ‘internal and external eternity’.

As such, Ģelzis is effectively building an idiosyncratic universe of his own that he populates with
characters, without relating it to specific events or actions. The artist plays the role of philosophical
raconteur, with a lightly ironic undertone. The work, liberated from any figurative reference, seems
to give expression to a furtive idea, a sudden flash of an idea or a brief observation or meeting.
And still the artist does not offer us any narrative framework. The artwork merely works as an empty
armature, a guiding structure upon which the viewer as ‘reader’ can create their own story.  

Wim Waelput, director and curator of KIOSK
Ghent, 22 October 2016.
Translated by Kate Mayne