Simply describing David Fesl’s sculptures would be inappropriate to their spontaneous craft. These delicate, palm-sized assemblages are formed with intense scrutiny and short bursts of activity over many long, staggered sittings; so, this companion piece spares chronology and instead offers words that mirror the processes he takes to make them:
Sift – scattered waste and found ephemera is surveyed on his studio desk, before being classified into elementary groups of shape, colour and form;
Contemplate – he’ll arrange his finds across empty desktops, some objects which have quietly lingered for years, others which hold his current attention;
Gather – in search of the enigmatic, he resists obvious connections, preferring contradictions of texture, whether soft or hard, rough or smooth, solid or friable;
Probe – some warrant David’s intrusion, as he’ll either fastidiously clean or tweak them to fit his vision; others are left in their found state, appreciating dirt or patina;
Surprise – he won’t plan a path to collecting his ingredients; each arrives within his grasp more fleetingly, burdened with their own identities and differences;
Stage – made of four to eight parts, he moves his initial visions back and forth between desk and wall, honing after much close inspection before deeming them complete;
Reflect – the gallery room they eventually hang in is, to David, central to what communication they impart – he asks his sculptures to be read together, as a seamless, unending story rather than even discreet chapters of a whole;
Obfuscate – he spares onlookers anything which can limit how they are perceived, the pieces revelling as, simply, ‘Untitled’, as if continuations of the same circuitous sentence,
Challenge – here, he has placed a few pieces on a long, purpose-built shelf, which obstructs entry into the first doorway;
Skitter – for viewers, this display encourages us to dart our attention above, across and sideways, taking heed of the room’s architecture, an effect David knowingly plots beforehand;
Chance – as well as the objects he stumbles upon, other elements he can foresee but can’t control await – light, for instance, and as vibrant Lisbon days emerge the shifting sunshine reveals his exhibition, like once-lost relics now under a spotlight, the minutiae of their details becoming clearer as the hours pass, until they retreat into shadows at nightfall, as if buried again in the earth where once they were found.
David Fesl (b. 1995, Czech Republic) received an MFA from Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He has presented his works at Sperling, Munich; T293, Rome; annex14, Zürich; Lulu, Mexico City; Karlin Studios, Prague; Castlefield Gallery, Manchester; and National Gallery Prague among others. His most recent and upcoming exhibitions took place at Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna (2022); Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo (2023); and Fait Gallery, Brno (2023). Since 2016, he has been part of an artistic duo along with Sláva Sobotovičová, in which they focus mainly on the creation of institutionally critical texts and performances.
Curated by Ted Targett