Basel Snapshots: Olaf Brzeski

At Basel’s Liste art fair, an object of contraditions

By ArtReview

Olaf Brzeski, The Life of a Pipe, 2017, metal, 90 x 60 x 20 cm

On display at Warsaw gallery Raster’s stand at Liste, Olaf’s Brzeski’s sculpture The Life of a Pipe is something of a visual joke. Inside a rectangular black-painted metal frame, a steel pipe is suspended. A slim metal crossbar runs across this box approximately one third down: it has the suggestion of a water-line, and that what we’re being asked to imagine here is in fact a tank of water. At the level of this ‘water-line', the pipe becomes encrusted with rust (it is, in fact, a different pipe altogether) as if it has been in this imaginary tank for a while.

Yet there is more to the work than visual trickery. The Life of a Pipe conjures notions of time and matter, of ageing and disintegration; yet in positioning the ‘new’ pipe and the ‘weathered’ pipe at a slight disjoint to create the illusion of refraction, the work also questions our ability to conceptualise and theorise that which is not sensible. Like much of the Polish artist’s work The Life of a Pipe is rooted in surrealism, and this is likewise an ode to André Breton’s ‘contradictory conditions’ of reality.

Published online 13 June 2017