The drawing Untitled (Straight Line) was made by Eske Rex by means of his own invention, the Drawing machine. It involves two pendulums, each suspended from a tower construction and connected through « drawing arms » and moveable joints. A ballpoint pen resting on a drawing surface covered with paper is mounted at the point where the pendulums come together. The pendulums are set in motion by hand, and their movements are represented on the paper. The movements of the pendulums affect the entire room, and the experience engages the beholder’s body. While the rhythmic repetitions cause the beholder to pause, the drawing emerges on the paper. The technique of using weights and pendulums was invented in the Renaissance and applied in the so-called Harmonograph.
Eske Rex is interested in the machine as a sculpture in space, a constantly changing mobile. In addition, the universe in the drawings is interesting by virtue of their spatial, textural, temporal qualities – a never-ending experiment where it is impossible to produce two identical drawings.
Eske Rex’ art derives from a fascination of natural phenomenon. His works often have a dynamic character that interacts with the surrounding space. They are examining various factors like time, force, gravity and space. The primary materials are wood and metal, and in his work he aims for simplicity and logic. Yet, a certain kind of theatricality and drama is present through his directing of natural forces such as in the movement of the pendulums in his Drawing Machine, the contraction and pressure in his Tensioned Wood series or the magnetic attraction in his Measuring Space and Divided Self works.
Eske Rex is embracing the fields of art, design and architecture and he has exhibited in both contexts, including the Danish Artists’ Autumn Exhibition in 2010, the Spring Exhibition at Charlottenborg in 2010 and The Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in 2009. In 2010, Eske Rex received the Danish Arts Foundation’s working grant and took part in the exhibition ‘Designers Investigating’ in Øksnehallen, which won an award from the Danish Arts Foundation. In 2011, he took part in MINDCRAFT11 in Milan and exhibited at the Triennale Design Museum, also in Milan. In 2013, he had his first solo show in Paris “Silent Action” in Galerie Maria Wettergren, who also exhibited his Drawing Machine in the Carrau du Temple during D’Days 2014. His works have been exhibited at the Design Miami/Basel and PAD Paris/London fairs since 2012.
Eske Rex (born 1977) is embracing the fields of art, design and architecture and he has exhibited in both contexts, including the Danish Artists’ Autumn Exhibition in 2010, the Spring Exhibition at Charlottenborg in 2010 and The Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in 2009. In 2011, Rex exhibited at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, and in 2013, he had his first solo show in Paris “Silent Action” in Galerie Maria Wettergren, who also exhibited his “Drawing Machine” in the Carreau du Temple during D’Days and at Design Miami/Basel in 2014. In 2015, Eske Rex was commissioned to create a permanent public sculpture for the International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands.
Through the years, Danish artist Eske Rex has developed a body of work where practices from architecture, art, design and craft are intertwined and unfolded within sculpture and installation. The works of art stem, despite their clear and ethereal expression, therefore from a more complex origin. They often take their point of departure in one or two main materials, that are worked to the limits of their inherent ability; fabric is stretched and wood split to the point of breach and their primary characteristics are laid bare in the demonstration of the condensed definite matter. Simple and stylistic, they are cleaned and processed of excess elements in order to concentrate on experiencing the materials of which the works are made. For the same reason they give what can be referred to as a found poetic silence in their presence.
The works are carried both by a conceptual idea and by the materials and the craftsmanship, and they are decidedly discursive in their analogue and apolitical statements. Works such as Unfolded Plank, Vorschub and Pull are pieces in series that examine the effects of force caused by tension between materials and space. They are overextended, stretched, split and placed on the verge of collapse. There are no stated explanations – all transfer of information happens on an aesthetic and sensuous level. The traces of craft and the attention to materials sensuously combine the tangible and near with metaphysical, essential and universal matters. The simple materials reflect universal states of mind and situations and link the piece to a metaphysical world, while the craft’s distinct imprints open up for a present and intimate character. Motion is essential in Rex´ works. Even motionless sculptures such as Tensioned Wood have a shape and a material that animate the surrounding space. The work has a strength which gives it an identity, an own-ness.
The traces of design are from time to time seen in the character of the works as objects, while the element of architecture is visible in their spatial orientation. The functionalism is toned down in Rex’s work, and the laws of physics and its founding effect on our universe are the governing principles. Gravity, magnetism, friction and the mathematical principles are explored in series of works such as Measuring Space and Divided Self. They investigate the effect of forces and the dynamics between the individual components of the piece and the variable element: the visitor. This is for example seen in Space Meter in which a wooden trumpet with an embedded magnet is suspended by a string fixed in a wall and the attraction of the magnet against a hung metal-plate on the opposite wall. The trumpet hovers a few centimeters apart from the metal-plate; vibrates with the visitor’s movements in the space and threatens to loose the magnetic connection to the wall and fall to the ground. The feeling of a point of breach is caused by an almost electric field which creates a sensibility and attention towards the objects in the space. Rex shares traits with some of the modernist artists by a mutual focus on simplicity in the choice of materials and themes and an abstract idiom which outlines universal figures and only in few cases with references to existing known shapes, as for example the bird in Constantin Brancusi’s sculpture or the mask in Rex’s Divided Self. A classical sculpture represents something. Eske Rex more often presents something.
As with Alexander Calder’s mobiles in metal, Rex shapes movement, gravity and force as well as he forms the material, and the material becomes a means to frame and activate these force effects. Rex prolonges a minimalist tradition in which the inherent characteristics of the materials are partaking in the aesthetics. While Brancusi is the sculptor who carves images out of the materials, Rex shapes the sculpture without the weight of the mass. Both have an inherent movement in their objects. Where Rex is working with the framework and Brancusi with the massive body, it is in the compositions essential to see Rex’ work in relation to the poetic shapes of Calder’s mobiles.
(Excerpts from Nina Wöhlk’s text about Eske Rex, 2015)
2001-2008: The Danish Design School, Furniture and Space department, Copenhagen
2007: Internship, Studio Jeppe Hein, Berlin
2006: Exchange, University of Art and Design, Environmental Art Department, Helsinki
2000: Scandinavian Design Folk High School, Denmark
1996-1999: Trained as a Carpenter/joiner with bronzemedal, Denmark
2018: Fibers and Threads, Galerie Maria Wettergren, Paris
2017: Group exhibition : fall exhibition censorteam together with Andreas Amenius, Kirsten Justesen, Anna Berger and judith Schwartzbart. KE17 – Den Frie, Copenhagen / Groupexhibition Vevringutstilinga 2017 in Vevring, Norway / Group exhibition Everyday Life show at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanasawa Japan / « Hvordan bygger man” Oplæg på kunstakademierts arkitektskole, København.
Flyverhangaren kl 15:00 / Animal, Man, Machine at Verbeke Foundation, Belgium / MINDCRAFT 17.
2016: CHART FAIR. Presented by Gallerie Maria Wettergren. / Saunahouse workshop with students, Anark and Johannes Villads in the swedish woods / Design Miami/Basel, New works presented by Gallerie Maria Wettergren, Switzerland / Dialogues with Tora Urup at Gallerie Maria Wettergren, Paris / PAD Paris, New works presented by Gallerie Maria Wettergren / Art Geneva, New works presented by Gallerie Maria Wettergren
2015: MINDCRAFT15, Chiostro Minore di San Simpliciano, Milan / Designmuseum Denmark, Copenhagen
2014: Zimmer Frei, Koldinghus, Denmark / Design at Large, Design Miami/Basel, Basel / DRAW, The Black Swan Arts Center in Frome, England / D´Days, Carreau du Temple, Paris /Lim, Boatbuilders workshop, Copenhagen
2013: Silent Action, Gallerie Maria Wettergren, Paris (solo) / MINDCRAFT13, Milano, Italy /O’Clock, Cafa Art Center, Beijing / Form follows Concept, Etage Projects, København
2012: Sejerø Festival, Denmark /Measuring space, Modtar Projects, Copenhagen (solo) /MINDCRAFT12, Milano, Italy.
2011: O`Clock, Triennale Design Museum, Milan /KE11, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen / Sejerøfestivalen, Sejerø /Design in Motion, Sydney Design Festival /MINDCRAFT11, Danish Crafts, Galleria Alessandro De March, Milano Italy.
2010: KE 10, Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling, Carlsberg Ny Tap / (Parentes), Modtar Projects, Copenhagen (solo) / Designers Investigating, Øksnehallen Copenhagen / Opening of Spinderihallerne, Vejle / Charlottenborg Spring
Exhibition, Copenhagen / Fröhliche Gesellschaft – Editionen, Centre d’Édition Contemporaine Genève und Galerie Parrotta Stuttgart
2009: The Cabinetmakers Autum Exhibition, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen / Udtræk, Modtar Projects, Copenhagen (solo) / Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition, Copenhagen
2008: Machine, Parrotta Project Space, Berlin (solo)
2007: Machine, Parrotta Contemporary Art, Stuttgart / Jeppe Hein Emphiehlt: Vorschub, Berlin with Florian Neufeldt, Max Frey, Claus Larsen, Florian Ludde.
2016: Teaching at workshop at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation.
2015: Workshop and lecture at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation.
2013: Workshop teacher at Anark Tree House Summer Workshop in Almtamåla, Sweden
2012: Lecture and Workshop at the institute of Media and Design, department of architecture, Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany
2011: Guest teacher: Projektil series of lectures/workshops at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany