Wout is fascinated by the edge, the outer rim of his sculptures. In fact, his sculptures only consist of an outer rim. There is no inner support structure. The sculptures carry themselves only by their outer layer. That what you see is also that what holds it together. Wout Neutkens studied physics. For him, the objective and scientific aim of these studies where not at odds with a deeply religious and poetic experience of space and his own being: they went hand in hand, harmoniously.
During his studies he learned about a revolutionary theory that unified various conflicting ideas about the universe. The theory was (partly) developed by Erik Verlinde and understands the universe as information on the outer surface of a sphere. This understanding of the galaxy became a metaphorical force for his later sculpture making. After his studies, he said no to an offer from his professor to continue hardcore scientific research. The idea of a cosmological horizon – an absolute outer surface in which everything is present – mixed with his understanding of the human skin (the absolute and extremely sentient outer surface of our human body): he wanted to find an artistic form to explore this.
Wout Neutkens was always an artist. He made beautiful sculptures in marble and wood, studied Fine Arts for 1 year at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy before he decided to quit and study physics. Looking back at that decision, we can maybe say that he was looking for better artistic material to continue is artistic voyage. He didn’t find it at art academy, but within modern physics.
After he finished his academic theses he started to use wooden planks and fabric. But the wood didn’t bend. It was too rigid and heavy. He then started to cut out cardboard following basic mathematical calculations, bending it, stretching fabric over it for tactility and rigidity, and attaching these pieces together. The first sculptures looked like early evolutionary species. Amoebes. Taking whatever form. Chaos. Then slowly sophisticated, sensual, shapes emerged. A poetic 3-dimensional language developed.
Wout filled up is whole room with sculptures and started to give sculptures to friends and family to create space. In 2017 he had a little show in the extra room of W139, and exhibition space in Amsterdam curated by his artist friend Anami Schrijvers. Stefan Ruitenbeek (KIRAC) en art advisor Paul van Esch visited the space and where blown away. A problem emerged: the sculptures where fragile. During the show many sculptures partly collapsed. Also because visitors where invited to play with the sculptures.
Paul and Stefan provided Wout with a studio so he could work on some larger works. A true explosion of creativity followed. Wout made large and spacious works. Like a flower in a vase they would remain fresh for a given amount of time, before temperature differences, changing humidity levels and gravity would get a hold on the cardboard and deform the sculptures. The forces of the ‘real’ galaxy started to mix with Wout’s artistic projections. There is a poetry at looking at this proces. And it will take decennia before the galaxy will truly destroy the sculptures. But parallel to that a method was found to capture the shapes in their optimal state. Non-destructive high-resolution 3d-scans are made, so all the air, the wrinkles in the fabric, the subtle delicate workings and tension of the sculpture are captured. Then: hightech 3d-prints and hyper modern ceramic-shell bronze production in order to translate all the details. Using the newest bronze techniques, Wout’s projection can be propelled into ‘eternity’.