Sculptures by nature are “mute”, however Visser’s work carries loud emotions, meanings and associations. Even without words, Visser imparts life lessons, observations and insights onto the viewer.
One can so easily lose sight of what is important in life and we get so held up with everyday problems that we forget to look at the bigger picture. Visser is uniquely aware of this. With no prior art schooling and firmly situated in the corporate world, he was in a motorcycle accident that changed his path completely. After three months in hospital, Visser knew that he wanted to change the direction his life was going. He needed to explore the passions in his life, even the ones he may have never even tried before the accident. Visser’s work displays his true purpose in life, Wood Sculpting.
Visser’s well renowned wooden hand sculptures (Fig 2) are where his passion for wood sculpting started. His parents gave him a 1930s Chinese fishing net float that had washed up onto the Namibian Coast.
Fig 2. A Light Touch, 2020
Anyone else might have just seen it as a simple glass ball, but to Visser, this had the potential to represent something greater. To him, he envisioned a hand holding the ball, with the intention that the world was in our hands and for us to pay attention to the destruction we are causing it. This was the start of the many insights Visser has imbued in his work.
Visser took to the medium of wood with great ease which is remarkable as he had no previous art education, nor had he worked with wood before. There is a beautiful contrast in his work, between the harsh and heavy nature of his use of power tools and the delicate and intricate pieces he creates. Contrast is a prevalent thing in Visser’s work as can be seen in Defiance (Fig 3). The contrast on display is between the rigid wood medium and the illusion it creates of a pliable fabric.
Fig 3. Defiance, 2020
This captivating artwork above (Fig 3) brilliantly illustrates what a lot of people were feeling during the initial South African lockdown.
What makes Visser standout from other wood sculptors and the reason he can get such intricate detail from such unforgiving material, is his technique. He creates wood sheets and laminates them together. His passion for the environment is the reason Visser uses wood from sustainable sources, and some of the pieces are even reclaimed material. The wood is not so kind as other mediums where you can paint over it or cover up a mistake. When it comes to wood you cannot undo your actions. If a mistake is made the only option is to start over. This doesn’t trouble Visser as he believes when something comes to an end it only gives you the opportunity to come back stronger.
Visser has been quoted in an interview with the Insider, saying: “What is important for me to pass onto my sons is to adamantly search for your purpose, that’s where you will find fulfilment, and also that there is a possibility of creating a livelihood by just being creative if you so choose. But beyond that, it’s to just be creative, even if you are not considered talented, and to spend time creating and letting your imagination flow. There are absolute wonders to be discovered in the recesses of your creative mind but you will never encounter them if you don’t occasionally dwell there”.
Fig 4. Visser in His Studio
In a time filled with uncertainty, it is crucial to hear these words. To be reminded that in times of change we cannot hold onto what was, but we must rather look forward at what could be. That life is about finding opportunity in places that there might not seem to be.
Visser and Froud, with their many years of expertise and experience, invite you to come and join us at Art@Africa Waterfront at the Clocktower Center from the 3rd of December, to view their works first hand, to partake in the conversations that they have created and bring your thoughts and feelings to the space.