THE POWER OF STONE IN A LAND OF CLAY
By Antonie den Ridder. Translation by Mari Shields
The Netherlands is no paradise for sculptors working in stone.’ The tone is laconic, not bitter. As we crisscross the Netherlands, visiting his recently completed works in public spaces, we join streams of traffic like colonies of ants swarming out of disrupted nests. The lack of wide-open horizons and untamed nature is a perpetual privation for a sculptor such as Ton Kalle. The current art climate, where theorizing largely subordinates the material strengths and sensual experience of the work of art, also contributes to frequent working stays in other countries being an absolute must for this sculptor. ‘A sculpture has to be experienced with the senses, not be a yo-yo in cool-blooded semantic games between artists and art observers about attributed meanings.’
From an impassioned love for his material and with attention to form, color and volume, Ton Kalle transforms stone into sculpture with principally simple interventions. At Sijtwende Park, in Leidschendam, he arranged eight boulders so that they form a reflection of the Ursa Major constellation, an earthly Great Bear. Because of the well-considered placement of the sculpture in this open landscape, the visitor experiences an intensification of the sense of space, a direct connection between this sloping lowland and the immeasurable depth of the universe.
Although he prefers a harmonic connection between nature and sculpture, Ton Kalle does not shy away from contrasts. In Middelharnis, worlds are clashing with one another. New building construction and original architecture are becoming entangled. At this interface, where ships once berthed in the old harbour, Kalle installed Light My Fire, a sculpture 5m tall and weighing 18 tons, which with a bit of imagination, can be seen as a prehistoric lighthouse, where fires once burned.
‘Contradictions can sometimes be bridged by the addition of a third element. The number is three also has an almost self-evident role in my work. A table only needs three legs to be a stable support.’ Led by his intuitive conviction that in all its forms and appearances, the world demonstrates cohesion, a union that the sculptor can make visible in his works, Ton Kalle transports his love for sculpture in stone to the flat land on the North Sea, so that we might become more aware that we are not just thinking machines, but that we see form and color and can feel stone.