Things We Love: Modular Sculptures Installation

  • July 30th, 2018
Artistic interior - Modscape Prefab Homes

Balance, solidity and geometry. These are the words to describe Modular Sculptures – a solo exhibition of sculptural work by Belgian artist, Conrad Willems.

Consisting of modular components that can be separated and recombined, built up and broken down, the installation explores building materials and the language of construction through simple shapes that are repeated and layered to create something curious. The resulting geometric shapes are blurred or further emphasised by adding light. 

Exhibited inside a Victor Bourgeois modernist villa in Brussels, the works include an almost three-metre tall sculpture that dominates the foyer. Along with the sculptures, the exhibition also features sketches similar to construction drawings.

Victors Brougeois designed the modernist villa and exhibition space for celebrated Belgian artist Oscar Jespers in 1929. Jespers, who died in 1970, was widely celebrated during his lifetime for his cubism-inspired works using Belgian blue stone, as well as white stone and marble – a similar material palette to the one used by Willems in Modular Sculptures.

“Each of these materials also carries a history of cultural and architectural references, adding an extra layer of meaning to the structures,” states Willems.

Primarily based in Ghent, the artist references geometry, repetition and modularity as basic principles that flow through his work. “Simple shapes and ideas, repeated and layered into something less simple,” says Willems.

Other works by Willems are constructed with freestanding pieces and are often constructed live. The building performance thus becomes a performance, the resulting construction an installation piece.

The shapes of the blocks are based on the children’s wooden construction blocks developed in the 19th century by educational theorist and teacher Frederich Fröbel. Willems was given a set by his godmother as a child and now has more than 2000 pieces in his collection.

Toy building blocks are a recurring source of inspiration for architects and artists.  BIG’s LEGO House instantly springs to mind, as does the modular building Habitat 67 in Montreal that celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.