Pop cul­ture in wood sculp­ture

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Health - Sara Fitz­patrick

SOME peo­ple en­joy the chal­lenge of solv­ing a tricky crossword puz­zle or bak­ing a three-tier cake.

Paul Kaptein takes plea­sure in a quirkier, more gru­elling trial.

Us­ing je­lu­tong Malaysian hard­wood, he spends sev­eral months hand carv­ing wood sculp­tures.

“Each work be­comes a prob­lem that I have to try and solve, so it’s con­stantly en­gag­ing and I find my­self ask­ing; ‘How do I re­solve that?’” the Ned­lands artist ex­plained.

“It’s re­ward­ing, en­cour­ag­ing and stim­u­lat­ing.

“I’m re­ally en­joy­ing the work I’m mak­ing and whether or not any­one else gets any­thing out of it is – at this stage – be­side the point.”

Kaptein said when he com­menced sculpt­ing with wood four years ago, he looked at the process and won­dered ‘How hard could it be?’

“Then I started to do it and re­alised just how hard it was,” he said.

“At the be­gin­ning it was ridicu­lously slow be­cause I was afraid to make a mis­take but af­ter a while I picked up speed.”

His latest work, tak­ing two months to cre­ate and ex­hibit­ing this month at Turner Gal­leries, in­cor­po­rates three piv­otal sym­bols of his ado­les­cence: KISS, Star Wars and cricket.

Kaptein de­scribes the piece as a “mu­seum of per­sonal history in one fig­ure”.

“The shoes are Gene Sim­mons boots with big plat­forms, which I have shaped to look like cricket pads, and the man is play­ing guitar with a cricket bat and wear­ing a Boba Fett (Star Wars char­ac­ter) hel­met,” the artist said.

“It deals with ideas of re­oc­cur­ring and loop­ing time… all these pop cul­ture mo­ments linger. The residue of your history sort of lingers across time as well.

“Those things don’t re­ally de­part; they shape you in some ways.”

Kaptein said wood­carv­ing was rare Down Un­der and deemed a leisure pur­suit rather than a se­ri­ous art form.

“Places like Switzer­land, Ja­pan, China and South East Asia have a tra­di­tional carv­ing cul­ture, so it’s much more preva­lent there,” he said.

“It comes down to a cul­tural root­ed­ness, which is why it’s not so preva­lent in Aus­tralia.”

Af­ter his gallery ex­hi­bi­tion, Kaptein heads to New York for a two-month res­i­dency, pre­par­ing for an ex­hi­bi­tion in the Big Ap­ple in De­cem­ber. This will be his first ma­jor show out­side of Aus­tralia.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d442674

Hard turn: Paul Kaptein found wood sculp­ture a much more chal­leng­ing prac­tice than he had first en­vis­aged.

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