Plaster tiles

I looked back at sketches I made some years ago, with the intention to transform a series of sketched ideas to low relief plaster tiles. From the start it was my aspiration to make poetic and sculptural entities, starting from the idea that the smooth surface of the cast side of plaster tiles and the materiality itself of the plaster can be considered as a mental space where I could act upon with poetic sculptural acts. I decided to make plaster tiles in approximately A3 and A4 sizes as to refer to standard sketching and drawing paper.

 

I act upon the wooden casting plate with a steel needle or a frees or when I stick tape or wood on it or staple metal on it I start anticipating and speculating about the outcome of the cast. What I engrave will stick out after casting like a low relief, and what I stick on the casting plate will show as a negative, as an imprint, but lower than the plaster surface, like an embedded relief. Objects that are stuck to the casting plate will appear at more or less the same level as the cast side of the plaster tile.

 

This process has little or nothing to do with sketching or drawing It is a careful and slow preparation, a process of anticipation and also speculation of what the outcome will be. All the sculptural and spatial entities that I imagined and that see the light in the form of these casts, are in relation to a smooth and flat plaster surface. So the result of the casting always posses graphical qualities. Plaster, as a casting material ads to the graphical qualities too, because it casts the details very well. It goes in every little hole and opening.

But plaster is also a difficult material to work with. It absorbs all the pencil marks on the cast board that are hardly visible. It absorbs pigments that are not waterproof and during the drying process the colors continue spreading through the inner structure of the plaster; it makes metal roost and the roost is visible in the plaster. Sometimes during its chemical process it can react badly and turn out brownish or stained.

 

I imagine table tops, window frames, ground planes of the studio space, badminton nets, bill boards, road signs… These planes are somehow conceived as cuts through the mental space that I project onto the white of the plaster tiles. I create a notion of three dimensions with planes that are a bit lower or a bit higher than the white surface of the plaster. With moments I come across sculptural references like the work of Franz West, Bernd Lohaus, Joseph Beuys.

 

In the plaster cast we see the etching act in the wooden board transformed into lines. Lines that remind us of metal bars, wooden posts, ropes or metal wire. They allow me to imagine sculptural and spatial entities that are detailed and pictural. The quality of the lines also allow me to create notions of scale.

 

The three dimensionality of the low and embedded relief is difficult to anticipate, together with the different unforeseeable reactions of the plaster during the casting. This creates moments of excitement when taking the tile from the mould. In most of the cases I have to use quite a lot of force to make the tiles come lose from their mould, but at the same time it is a crucial moment, because the relief is made on that moment, in a fraction. Nothing is ever sure. The more I work with the method, the more I can see the unforeseen aspect as an integral part of the process. The work is created on the moment it breaks loose from the mould.

 

All together it's a quite playful method. I use the casting method to assign particular sculptural qualities to existing sculptural and spatial concepts, but also in some kind of way to appropriate things that I've seen in the world, and that take my attention or interest, for example other art works, or particular constructions that take my attention.

 

I make series of casts to get a better control of the possible formal visual outcome of the casts, but at the same working in series allows me to explore a single concept in depth. To investigate sculptural and spatial concepts that I could never develop through sketching or by making objects.