February 10, 2024
March 16, 2024
21 rue des Vertus, 75003 Paris
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Philip Seibel

Warmth is Philip Seibel’s first solo exhibition at Lo Brutto Stahl. It brings together a variety of works that navigate a fine line between industrial manufacturing and traditional craft techniques, accompanied by precise painterly gestures and other spatial interventions that are typical of the artist’s practice. The exhibition at the Paris gallery is characterized by a peculiar presence of the absent (body, work, function): some works remain inaccessible but visible; painted traces of fogging on the wall are suggestive of a radiator once installed there to provide heat; found objects have been stripped of their intended function in order to become part of a sculpture.

A shift in perceptual registers also underlies the show by the Berlin-based artist: as apparent lookalikes of the air conditioning units that discreetly yet purposefully occupy our spaces, Seibel’s sculptures—most of them from his ongoing Gehäuse series—become the (off) center of attention. Hung in isolation and above body height, behind a pillar, or in a remote corner, these laboriously crafted works represent the process of production itself in terms of both material and knowledge, as Seibel’s works are often prefaced by lengthy research.

The sculptures are situated at the threshold between (art) objects of fetishization and those whose functionality is deliberately concealed. Similar to air circulation devices, the hermetic works suggest that they are the only visible part of a larger system operating covertly in the background. Furthermore, they allude to something to which we are denied access, but which allows us to imagine the potentiality of what is obscured—or, as Seibel notes, “The sculptures are driven by the desire to create a presence of something that remains hidden.”

Two of the wall works on display have had previous outings. At the gallery, they now—deliberately—remain somewhat behind the scenes: Gehäuse (reed) is installed behind office blinds that are intended by the artist to serve as both spatial and visual dividers, a (see-through) barrier through which the work assumes an abstracted version of its earlier staging. Gehäuse (but at a time when), meanwhile, is hung in the medieval cellar vault, with only its digital representation accessible to visitors via a permanently installed monitor at the gallery’s entrance as if it were under surveillance.

Alongside these box-shaped objects are two more of this nature that were newly made for the occasion and are also positioned at the margins of the gallery space, that is, above the conventional hanging height. Gehäuse (Shutter) is constructed from a green lacquered ca-sing, whose face is almost completely covered by an aluminum shutter, offering just a glimpse of a found and altered wax relief embedded within—a poor replica of an originally skillfully crafted wood carving. The other, Gehäuse (And there was a feeling of warmth, of being accepted), is also made of aluminum, with its upper half and sides clad in black Plexiglas and its bottom pierced by slits; at first glance, it is reminiscent of an extractor hood.

Flanked by the casings, the only free-standing sculpture in the exhibition bears the title Tisch (Krefft Harpsichord). With his background as a luthier, it is not far off the mark that Seibel has based its design on the Baroque instrument mentioned in the title. However, this work made out of turned beech wood and metal is in fact more evocative of things commonly regarded as plain and functional, such as commercial kitchens or school furniture. The different materialities and connotations of the sculptures are indicative of a contradictory feeling that imbues the exhibition as a whole and is also reflected in the contrasting relationship between the austere appearance of the art space and the emotional message conveyed by the show’s title.

While a clinical coldness resonates in Seibel’s exhibition, its primary focus is on the element of absence, which manifests in two ways: first, the series of wall sculptures articulates the presence of something intangible, while simultaneously aiming to establish credibility. Ultimately, however, absence appears to be a kind of durational exercise imposed on us as visitors in that it becomes the marker of its own presence and our point of reference.

— Gloria Hasnay

21 rue des Vertus, 75003 Paris
Feb 10, 2024
Mar 16, 2024
Gallery hours
Tuesday — Saturday, 2pm to 7pm
PHILIP SEIBEL (b. 1980 in Hagen, Germany. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany) 

Philip Seibel is a sculptor with a background in instrument making and a deeply historical, research-based practice. He received his MFA from the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf under Peter Doig in 2011.

Recent solo exhibitions include: Gehäuse, Magenta Plains, NY, USA (2023); The Word for World is Forest, Union Pacific, London, UK (2022). His work has lately also been shown in group exhibitions such as: Conduits, Lo Brutto Stahl, Paris, FR (2023); Darling, your head’s not right, François Ghebaly, NY, USA (2023); I heard myself close my eyes, then open them, (with Patricia L. Boyd and K.R.M. Mooney), Braunsfelder, Cologne, DE (2022).

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