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.
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.