Ironic Reflections of Pablo Wendel


Pablo Wendel — artist of younger gen­er­a­tion, yet to be involved with crit­ics or defined with con­cep­tual bound­ar­ies described by cur­at­ors, but he already attrac­ted a lot of atten­tion from mass media, social net­works and took part in some of most recog­nized gal­ler­ies and exhib­i­tions ( Bloomberg Contemporaries 2010, Saatchi best gradu­ate awards ). The reason behind all this atten­tion most prob­ably lies behind his wit and accur­ate raillery. His per­form­ances are spread­ing in speed of light and quickly becom­ing of “must see” type.

One of the best known per­form­ances, prob­ably shown on most of big­ger coun­tries’ tele­vi­sion chan­nels and writ­ten about in news­pa­pers, was sta­ging of Terracotta war­rior in China’s archi­tec­tural her­it­age exhibit. Pablo him­self dis­guised as one of the war­ri­ors just stood still there amongst legendary her­oes. Sure enough China’s dictatorship-​like Police didn’t like it one bit, so young man, who wasn’t react­ing to ques­tions and urging to leave, was just car­ried out of battlefield.

But this is not a sole per­form­ance of this guy, so let’s talk about his other work.

Terracotta warior
Fish’s flight

One of more inter­est­ing per­form­ances was done in Norway and it’s all about fly­ing fishes. Artist attached fish­hook to a helium bal­loon and tied it to anchor, so bal­loon wouldn’t fly away. When fish finally took a bait (after 4 hours), knot untied and fish flew above the sur­face of water. In video com­ment­ary we can hear artist him­self talk­ing about fly­ing fishes and feel­ing when fish, who all its life lived under water, is forced to become air­borne. I won­der did fish sur­vived after this kind of flight or is it its last adventure…

Swimming in shit

Another per­form­ance, which I thought was pretty cour­ageous, was done in China, where artist took a dive into sewer after which he decided to take a walk around the city. It’s prob­ably obvi­ous enough that he was all wet and smelled of feces. “Dressed up” like this he walked into vari­ous shops and finally tried to hail a cab to go home, unfor­tu­nately without any suc­cess. Taxi drivers didn’t want such cli­ent, so he had to walk for three hours.

Staircase between uni­ver­sity and squat

This object is as witty as oth­ers. Pablo stud­ies at Royal College of Art master’s stud­ies pro­gram. In this pic­ture we can see stairs that almost became Pablo’s thesis. Its main point was to design con­nect­ing space (stairs) between uni­ver­sity and his res­id­ence. His res­id­ence near uni­ver­sity was chosen by a bit sur­prise when he decided to squat in fish & chips restaurant’s ware­house, near the college.

He just took over the ware­house, cleaned it, settled and finally con­struc­ted the stairs con­nect­ing to col­lege. Student hoped to live there until his thesis was fin­ished and presen­ted. Unfortunately, col­lege per­son­nel didn’t like the stairs, and it was decon­struc­ted on basis it being not safe and dan­ger­ous. However owner of the res­taur­ant, when he found out about occu­pant and listened to his story, was quite reasonable.

This work is from earlier phase of his cre­at­ive work and it shows Pablo’s sculpt­ing skills. Sculpture was cre­ated in his own image and was placed in route near Vilnius. Unfortunately, it’s faith is unknown, maybe we should try to con­tact author about it. But know­ing how act­ive this route is, it is likely that this hitch­hiker got a lot of atten­tion from passing by drivers.

Young artist’s works from first sight can look like jokes that are easy to under­stand, but they can be widely inter­preted and has subtle implic­a­tions. In my opin­ion, his latest works are the most valu­able. The earli­est ones catches your eye, but is more of the stu­dent or search­ing for your­self thing. However in cre­at­ive works of Paul Wendel it is import­ant to view them as a whole – in series and sequences, not as sep­ar­ate works. It is because one sol­it­ary work picked up from port­fo­lio can look more like one of many you­tube jokes (this I have wit­nessed myself dur­ing art show at Bloomberg Contemporaries, where artist’s per­form­ance video dis­solved in mass of 49 authors). For those who want to under­stand gen­eral style of artist, his way of think­ing and dia­log with spec­tator, it is import­ant to take time and ana­lyze artist’s port­fo­lio. These works are linked tightly with pho­to­graphy, where sequence is one of most import­ant val­ues. Only lim­ited num­ber of people catches sight of live per­form­ance, while in exhib­i­tion you can see doc­u­mented version.

It is very dis­ap­point­ing, that author him­self doesn’t have a web page and while search­ing for inform­a­tion about his cre­at­ive works, you have to sift through vari­ous art­icles, frag­ments and forums.

In any way looks like angle dis­covered by Pablo, his ideas and reproach has its envir­on­ment and prob­ably in couple of years we will see even more inter­est­ing actions, per­form­ances and sculp­tures. It would be fun to wit­ness Pablo Wendel’s exhib­i­tion with more con­text and more ser­i­ous­ness in its works.

Gintarė Žitkevičiūtė
About author:
Gintarė Žitkevičiūtė
Gintare Zitkeviciute is Art Pit’s thinker and doer. In her work practise, she values lean approach, creativity and quick decisions. She doesn't like working with random people and thinks that a team is a heart of successful project. For that reason, she carefully picks people she works with on everyday basis. She is mostly interested in innovatio... Read further >
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