Sebastien Pauwels is a sculptor with a fascination for painting. In his works, the brushstroke
holds an essential place and once volumes emerge, they exists by chromatic expression.
His first artworks, sculpted in the round abstract volumes from 2010-2011, defy traditional
notions of stability and verticality, of mass and hollowness. They explore the medium's
intimate surface through fluctuations of texture and color. Soon afterwards, the white wall
seduced the artist into hanging flattened boulders as well as intricate little plaster pieces,
smooth and thick reminding one of sculpture by their weight and their rendering of stylized
rocks or deep da Vinci inspired caves. These were followed by pictorial concrete pieces,
scans of stones or of a fragmented topography: three-dimensional and flat surfaces came
into confrontation and led to experimentation; no matter the process, their sooty appearance
gave them a tactile quality.
More recently Pauwels has explored the bas-relief. Working with resolutely lightweight and
poor materials, such as cardboard and polystyrene, he designs hollow shapes that build up
emptiness: from the volume itself but also growing out of the circumscribed form, once again
the result of a linear pattern, soft curves, organic and random who may remind one of the
landscapes of Jean Arp, sometimes on a stronger rhythm. These structures are then
thickened and made to last by several coats of fiberglass and paint. This process does not
hide the assembly operation that brought to life the system of volumes but rather transforms
it with new associations of colors and textures. The visual decoy of materials creates a
strangeness, however, it escapes any slip into illusionism. Each step of the process is visible
as if to amplify the passing of time, of reflexion and achievement. The metamorphosis offers
us a glimpse of its progression, as if frozen in a transient state. The sculptures are enliven
by surface and fitting mishaps. The artist takes full responsibility for them, to him, these
events are essential and operative. Scraping and sanding the surface reveals the process'
The sculptor lovingly calls his works “the ghosts” because they vaguely resemble human
forms but the expression may also refer to the trails and tracks visible on the artwork's
surface, the memory of successive stages. It also speaks of the hollowness they create and
are made of. Their lightness is suggested by the single nail holding them up on the wall, very
present, it tempts one into handling the object. The static/mobile, hollow/full, fragile/solid,
crude/decorative dichotomies always ignite ones perceptive experience.
Obsessed with a form's birth, evolution, and mutations, Pauwels work congregates volume,
color and medium to bring to light the relentless completion of the artist's action.
Catherine Mayeur, December 2019
Translation by Sarah de Bony