FRIEZE MASTERS: Carel Visser: Aluminium Reliefs 1965-68
“There are many affinities between the work of Carel Visser and that of British sculptors of his generation but his work has been rarely seen here and is little known.”
- Nicolas Serota, 1978, preface for the catalogue of Carel Visser’s first major retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Carel Visser (b. 1928 Papendrecht, The Netherlands – d. 2015 Le Fousseret, France) studied architecture as well as Drawing and Sculpture at The Hague, and throughout his career has been an extremely popular and well-respected artist in The Netherlands having had a large retrospective at The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1960, as well as having a number of museum and gallery presentations and Bienniale participations, but rarely exhibited in the UK.
Working in geometric abstraction, experimenting with balance and symmetry Visser formed dynamic metal structures developing the principles of De Stijl, and cites Brancusi, Giacometti and Constant in particular as great influences on his work. A member of NUL (the Dutch ZERO contingent) with artists such as Schoonhoven, Peeters and Dekkers who pushed Minimalism ahead in painting and sculpture. In the mid-sixties Carel Visser started working on a series of aluminium wall pieces and completely abandoned the floor.
The limited number of unique aluminium works were created in two sizes: 80 x 100 cm or 100 x 130 cm and consisted of two parts: one plate was shown as a whole, the other decomposed into an even number. These decomposed parts were stacked/ divided/ bundled or sliced and confronted with its untouched counterpart, sometimes harmoniously, but more often welded together in a confrontational manner. Looking back on his simplicity, we can more than once recognise the international characteristics of the work in relation to his contemporaries and the influence on art today.
Forty years ago, in 1978, Sir Nicholas Serota directed his first major retrospective in Britain at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London. Organised by Clive Adams it then travelled to the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol and the Third Eye Centre, Glasgow. Now, in 2018, The Mayor Gallery, in collaboration with Borzo Gallery, Amsterdam, will be presenting a selection of aluminium wall pieces largely never before seen at Frieze Masters, shining a well-deserved spotlight on his work in the UK once again.
Future exhibitions on the artist are scheduled for the first months of 2019 in The Hague: in Beelden aan Zee (sculptures) and at the Gemeente Museum The Hague (works on paper).