Meet Yoel Pytowski, winner of Jan Naaijkens award 2018. Part of this award was a residence at Witte Rook. Yoel graduated from LUCA school of Arts and La Cambre in Brussels, Belgium. Through in-situ installations, Yoel situates the space and it’s questioning as a central narrative element of his work, convoking in each place constructions, destructions or reconstructions. Normally his works are large scaled architectural installations, to work much smaller is something different but challenging. Packed with wood and plaster he stays at Witte Rook for two weeks.
“My work articulates different themes such as visibility, legibility, architecture and identity through the point of view of construction and deconstruction. Lately I’ve been working mainly with large scale in-situ installations. I usually work with construction materials and particularly concrete. They represent for me the idea of construction, either spatially or conceptually. Regarding the use of concrete, I see it as a sort of symbol of an unchangeable and unalterable material. This said, I like to adapt the techniques and materials I choose to the needs of my projects, in this way, the scope of mediums and techniques of my practice diversify over time.”
When Yoel asked me for the nearest construction market my curiosity was triggered immediately. I was wondering how the exhibition room would look because I only saw pictures of his – very – large scaled installations in concrete. But when he said he could not work on such a large scale I was surprised, my curiosity was still triggered though. Questions flew around in my head: How would he adjust his themes in new and smaller scaled work?
Yoel likes to reflect on subjects as identity and architecture, because they are often seen as paradigms of the permanent and the invariable. “I try to question these culturally preconceived concepts through my installations, hoping that these might be seen as more permeable and flexible.”
Another thing he likes is to read theory books about architecture, arts and politics. As if it had to be found, his eye caught an architecture book at the library at Witte Rook and was intrigued by it. Books like these are triggers to his interests in an artistic way or pushes him to create and develop new projects. Nevertheless, he tries to avoid illustrating any particular reading or theory.
“Artists as Ian Kiaer, Mike Nelson or Francis Alÿs are also part of my inspiration. I like the way that Kiaer succeeds to suggest architecture and scale with very little material and interventions in are very subtle and complex way. How Mike Nelson’s is able to create architectures relating realism and strangeness. And the way Francis Alÿs manages to deal with political conflicts or situations through a non-authoritative or demonstrative way but always poetical.”
After his residence, Yoel has a few exhibitions coming. He works on much smaller scaled works, furniture and his upcoming exhibitions in Belgium. “In October, I will be showing at Espace Moss, a hybrid place dedicated to research where people experience a show while having a forty minutes haircut in a live web-broadcast. The in-situ installation I’m working on will be a sort of public square where different events such as live music and cooking will take place.”
He is also invited to participate with the Venezuelan artist Angyvir Padilla to the group show ‘2 of Hearts’, curated by the Italian artist Jaccopo Pagin and taking place at SB34 in November, “that will show some artists couples based in Brussels who are living a love affair, and who have not necessarily ever worked together before.”
In the near future Yoel would like to be able to work on some videos he has been planning for a while as well as some performance regarding memory and space. He also wants to be able to work with architects and landscape designers.
The smaller pieces – wall pieces – he makes during his residence are made of plaster boards, different wood panels, concrete and plaster. He starts with a drawing that shows buildings folding or penetrating in each other. With a high focus for measuring and cutting the plaster board, his headphones provides him music and the isolation to stay focused.
So, if you ask me if it is possible to work on a large scale and on a small(er) I think Yoel’s exhibition will proof that it is possible. To me it is obvious. But is that right? Can I say that without the knowledge of measuring, without the experience? To see an artist work, to me it means a plan is working but at the same time, one cannot see the inner struggle. It is the first time he works this small with these materials and it is not a logical thing to assume it is easier when you work on a smaller scale. “The effect will be seen much easier but on a larger scale…” he chuckles lightly because he knows the WOW-effect will be – obviously – much bigger larger scaled, more satisfying. But it is a challenge and the outcome will be shown this Friday. Are you just as curious as me, I hereby invite you!