Fix It, 2004. Mixed media, 4 x 6 x 10 meters. Photo credit: Nikos Evangelopoulos

Obsessive Interests: A Conversation with Paul Edmunds, Walter Oltmann, and Gordon Froud

Last year, when I was researching post-apartheid South African art, I met Walter Oltmann, Gordon Froud, and Paul Edmunds, whose disinterest in theoretical or political agendas seemed fresh and dynamic. As I looked more closely at their works, with their unusual choices of materials and methods of construction, these artists revealed intriguing similarities in their ideas and approaches to making art.

Walter Oltmann makes hand-crafted objects using industrial materials. He twists, interlocks, and weaves pieces of wire into stylized forms that could be human, animal, plant, or insect. With their mesh-like skins, these works appear to be simultaneously line and volume. Paul Edmunds uses cheap, throwaway industrial items, such as nylon cable ties, plastic mesh, shredded magazines, and glue. Joined together, these materials form abstract, solid objects that both reveal and belie their mundane origins, their uses and visual properties constantly in a state of flux. Gordon Froud began his career with cheap, found, and recyclable materials and objects such as toys, plastic cups, and plates, combining them into humorous sculptures and installations. His newer works are made from more permanent materials such as stainless steel and exist as stand-alone sculptures or as installations.