Participating artists:

Gerbrand Burger (NL) – Gesine Grundmann (DE) – Roman Gysin (CH) – Abul Hisham (IN) – Milda Lembertaité (LT/UK) – Bart Lunenburg (NL) – Henrique Oliveira (BR) – Maria Roosen (NL) – Elmo Vermijs (NL) – Tatiana Wolska (PL)

With the great emphasis on materiality that has been evident in contemporary art for over a decade, classic materials such as clay, textiles and, to a lesser extent, stone are being re-examined by the current generation of artists. Clay and textiles have become an indispensable part of the post-media practices of the latest cohort. Without a doubt, the oldest construction material, wood, is sure to follow.

Wood, the core of trees, a combination of carbon dioxide, sunlight and minerals, is one of the most universal materials in art. Not only is wood the oldest material, but it has also been the most widely used material in art throughout the centuries. Even further, wood has shaped the evolution of humans.

Wood remained the predominant material in sculpture until it was replaced by marble and bronze in the 16th century. A reintroduction took place in the early 20th century. However, wood as a material never regained its former status. Only a small group of artists belonging to the 20th-century sculptural canon continued to use wood, such as Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Constantin Brâncuși, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ossip Zadkine, Juana Muller, Isamu Noguchi, Louise Bourgeois, Maren Hassinger, Louise Nevelson, Carl Andre, Mario Merz, Giuseppe Penone, Donald Judd, Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Richard Long, David Nash, Martin Puryear, Georg Baselitz, Stephan Balkenhol, Tadashi Kawamata and Jimmie Durham.

There is no doubt that wood still plays a prominent role in design and architecture, but what about the use of wood in contemporary sculpture? The silent rise of artists who use wood in their practice, whether exclusively or not, is not yet so apparent, but still it cannot be ignored. In addition to Huma Bhabha, Claudia Comte, Thomas Houseago and Oscar Tuazon, who have continued the use of wood into the 21st century, there is a new generation of artists who are doing so, and representatives from a previous generation are also gradually coming to the fore. Even an iconic artist like Paul McCarthy has incorporated monumental woodcarving in his unruly art practice.

As well as traditional methods, their practices explore new, computer-controlled modes of woodworking, the theme of identity and gender, installations that further examine the tradition of minimal art, relationships with architecture and, from the perspective of sustainability, the recycling of wood. We can certainly say that wood is making a comeback.

In the midst of the trees, Lustwarande is presenting an exhibition that focuses exclusively on the use of wood in contemporary sculpture, emphasising the essence of what De Oude Warande is: arbos, based on the Latin word for trees.