It was a grey day when i visited Yaïr Callender (1987) in his studio, in a seemingly forgotten suburb of The Hague near Broeksloot Canal.
Exactly the time and place not to be distracted by road signs, colourful advertising, cars and other visual noise, and to value the shapes and characters of things and objects, and to see how man and nature work on them.
Once it must have been part of human instinct to closely examine and read the environment, to literally see what it had to tell us and to inspire our imagination.
Somewhere in the history of seeing there must have been some sort of point where nature became culture in the perception of man.
When i arrived, Callender was working on a hexagon, sanding and judging its surface.
We discussed the point where a spot either remains just a spot or becomes something significant in its structure and colour. He also told me he likes the hexagon as a shape.
It has more possibilities than for instance the rather stable square or than the circle with its connotations with eternity etc.
Apart from natural processes Callender has a keen interest in the basic shapes of culture and how they personify human thinking. Clearly, making is a kind of thinking to Callender.
That is also a great difference with carpentry – the trade he is trying to earn a daily income with.
He likes the work itself but it is quite different from art in that it is – for all its aesthetics – purely practical.
Walking around in Callender’s studio one could easily get the idea that being an artist is a kind of romantic business where everything will shape itself if the artist is in the right mood.
Nothing could be further from the truth however, as Callender has to critically think and rethink his ideas while working and watching and also thinking about the practicalities of things.
Will the objects he is making have the right impact on the viewer, and how will they behave in the exhibition space?
And then there are the common everyday practicalities: how to organise your daily business such that you can give your art the dominant and professional place in life it needs. Well, the common story for any artist i guess.
Callender is best known for his monumental work, but his care for detail also brings him to works in which these details attract attention of the viewer and will make the viewer look further for details.
These details may be sculpted, drawn, painted or anything else, as long as they make the viewer wonder and associate.
Any intervention, any detail in a work adds to the meaning of the whole work, whether it is the surface of it, the colour or structure or any sign.
We talked things over with a cup of coffee until we both had to go our ways, back to the rumour of daily life again.
Next month Callender’s work can be seen at Omstand in Arnhem and later somewhere this year in Delft.
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Contents of all photographs courtesy to Yaïr Callender
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