Graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and obtained a master’s degree in sculpture in 2021.
Two aspects that are of importance in Emily Kelly’s work: ‘Plastic’ vs ‘Clastic’.
“Plastic” stands for anything that is fluid of form and easily formed or malleable.
“Clastic” in turn stands for something that exists out of different parts and can be reassembled without joining it together permanently.
The term ‘Clastic’ was introduced by the artist Carl Andre, who used it regularly within his own work.
Emily Kelly’s work is usually made up of elements that be repeated. The parts are hand and custom made. It is the physical strength of the artist that determines the scale of a work. The works contain industrial materials but are not manufactured on an industrial scale, they are unique and of Kelly’s hand. Thanks to the repetition, and because everything is made or adapted by hand, the minor differences and imperfections are emphasised. The simplicity of the shapes and objects allow us to focus on the details.
Materiality is very important to Kelly. All the materials she uses are at a point on the spectrum between natural and synthetic. Industrial elements in contrast with organic and natural elements. Concrete, steel and stainless steel versus soap, sponges and cherry pit cushions. The contrast between the different parts and the materials create a duality within the work. In each case it concerns two contradictory elements that alternate and seek a connection with each other.
Almost all her works are palindromes: you can rotate them around their axis and they remain exactly the same. So there is almost always a potential reflection within.
Kelly sees her works as modular or ‘clastic’. This means that everything can be activated and be deactivated, connected or disconnected without damaging the work in its whole. By stacking the different parts of a work, clamping or hooking them together, a sculpture is created.
Kelly therefore consciously chooses to prevent permanently attaching the parts within a work. This means instability, fragility, balance and gravity become intrinsic parts of the work. Because of the modular nature of the works, they also suggest movement. However, the fact that everything can be disconnected means not that the works should take on other forms. The works are made and installed so that they are in ideal condition.
Kelly’s work is mostly site-specific. Often it is the space that initiates the creation of a work. Consequently, works are always in relation to the space in which they are placed. The arrangement of the works and especially the spacing between and within them is for the artist of great importance. Emptiness gives a work the opportunity to function autonomously within the totality of the presentation.
On the other hand: because her works are modular, they are also partly flexible and not necessarily tied to a particular space. The works can thus adapt to a certain extent to the space in which they are placed.
Her first solo exposition 'Plastic / Clastic' can be seen at our gallery until May 1st 2022.