29 December 2005
Never again should anyone say that it is impossible to capture the wind: Tim Prentice succeeds marvelously in doing it with his gossamer-thin dainty mobiles.
In the von Bartha Gallery (in Basel) a little cheating is going on; a ventilating fan in a corner simulates the wind, whereby the gentlest of movements of people in the rooms or the closing of a door are enough to breathe life into Tim Prentice's delicate structures. The thinnest of wires strike against each other almost noiselessly; thin metal plates and scales of plastic seem to hover in the lightest of breezes.
The mobiles of the 75-year-old artist appear to be unbelievably delicate and fragile. One could compare the American's works with those of his compatriot Alexander Calder as much as one would like; the comparison limps. Sure, both create mobiles, both use wire. But next to Prentice's works, those of Calder seem coarse, with their black discs and colorful shapes. Prentice likes colorlessness, the pure steel wires which he assembles to net-like structures in which the eye can no longer distinguish the individual elements and which appear, like hedgehogs or serpents, in the undulating movements of flying carpets when the wind sets them in motion. Prentice's works are like the wind itself, accentuating its very essence. The artist, a trained architect, wants to make air visible, to shape and understand it. His free-floating mobiles rarely have only circular or linear movements. On the contrary, they are so conceived as to be able to move in many varying directions, whilst at the same time assuming different shapes and forms. These refined sculptures are never ponderous, plump or boring but constantly and slowly transforming themselves as though imbued by perpetuum mobile.