Karsten Schubert London presents Frank Kent: Days from February 9 to March 11, 2023.
Frank Kent’s sculptures are psychological landscapes that materialize ideas and feelings.
Kent worked as a carpenter before attending Nottingham Trent University, where he earned a BA in Fine Art in 2010. Painting and woodworking collided during his postgraduate studies at London’s Royal Academy Schools. This is reflected in Kent’s most recent sculptures, in which he brings together materials he has gathered and then alters and incorporates them into wooden structures constructed with a characteristic lightness of touch.
Kent uses material economy to discover the most straightforward ways of presenting his views. This is the delight of sculpting, he says, in which elements are built up but also eliminated, creating the illusion of motion or growth. For example, in so far to go (2021), wooden sketching curves are arranged in a branch-like pattern. One bends back and is attached to a Tufnol cog, obscuring the vanishing point of three coloured wool pieces placed at an angle in a tight, triangle shape. Other curves reach into the air above to symbolize the sculpture’s outward momentum.
This openness helps Kent’s sculptures to blend in with their surroundings, which is facilitated by the empty spaces within their bodies. These are frequently in the shape of an approximate square, a shape that appears repeatedly in ‘Air Signs’ (2019-ongoing), Kent’s collaborative photographic work with Brian Griffiths, whom he met at the RA Schools. This body of work was initially shown at Karsten Schubert London in 2020, and then at Van Gogh House the following year.
The photographs displayed at Van Gogh House were described as’sideways moments of focus and narrative,’ and they framed references to Vincent van Gogh’s life and work in playful compositions, while circling back to the artist’s use of the cube as a framing device in the creation of his own paintings. One shot depicted Vincent’s Chair (1984), a Minimalist artist Bob Law copy of Van Gogh’s chair lent to Kent and Griffiths by Karsten Schubert London.
Kent made a series of geometric sculptures out of white-painted spruce wood, with delicate flicks of wood curving outwards from their rigid bodies, in 2017. These were followed by white chalk wall drawings of similar linear configurations with the same curling forms. Kent’s works, whether three-dimensional or two-dimensional, are a direct reflection of the modes in which they exist. However, they are always present in another realm: the imaginary. Kent describes his most recent sculptures as more inward-looking, reflecting on growth and the passage of time, in relation to the evolution of his practice.
The sense of geometry and structure are still present, but here they act as boundaries that guide a fuller expression of the transience of thought and experience, beckoning viewers with forms that appear in continuous motion.
Kent enjoys that his sculptures, having originated in the realm of his mind’s eye, can be documented as photographs and as descriptions—embracing the flatness of projection, and the potentiality of their physical existence in the world. But this process also relies on what viewers assign to the works’ constituent parts. As Kent suggests: ‘These works are not like a piece of music that is loaded with emotion, that makes you feel a certain way; I hope there’s something that you take away yourself, optimism or despair, a deadpan joke or a beautiful landscape.’