On a Saturday afternoon in early November, the long Heiser Gallery space in New Farm, Brisbane was filled with the colour and vibrancy of Robert Moore’s paintings, and the geometric and yet earthy wood forms of visiting US wood sculptor Aleph Geddis.
This was the opening of hard/soft, a joint exhibition of work by long time friends. Amidst the excitement and filling of wine glasses, the tally of red dots was steadily growing. Aleph Geddis, recognisable from his social media, wore his trademark beanie and huge smile.
Aleph uses the laws of platonic solids and golden mean ratios to create carved forms that often feature geometric and multi-faceted surfaces. With curves added in, the forms are complex and visually intriguing.
Carving wood was something Aleph learnt about and still does in the workshop he now shares with his stepfather in Orcas Island in the far north-west of Washington state, USA.
He uses power tools but the dust and noise they produce gave rise to his preference for hand tools. He calls carving his ‘spiritual practice’, akin to a form of meditation which settles the mind. ‘More than anything it’s about being present with the work, that’s the whole thing,’ he said.
It’s good to complete things Aleph says, but the ‘magic’ is in the process. ‘The feeling of the chip coming off lets you know if you’re going the right way. I like the look of hand carved, the “wabi sabi-ness of it”’, he said to me later on.
As well as the laws of geometry, Aleph is a student of art history, in particular Northwest Coast native art. This influence is discernible in the powerful imagery of the face masks and totemic forms he also sculpts but which were not presented in this exhibition.
Aleph Geddis divides his time working in the Orcas Island studio and in Bali, Indonesia where he has trained others to work alongside him on various commissions and projects. At other times he likes to travel.
There is a rumour that Aleph may return to Australia to perhaps teach or take up an artists residency, and no doubt there are many that hope that may eventuate.
Words: Linda Nathan, Wood Review editor
Contact Aleph Geddis via www.alephgeddis.com The exhibition is on show until November 25, 2017. More information on the exhibition of work by Robert Moore and Aleph Geddis is at www.heisergallery.com.au