Artist Paul Kaptein carves out his niche

Paul Kaptein. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d442674
Paul Kaptein. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d442674

SOME people enjoy the challenge of solving a tricky crossword puzzle or baking a three-tier cake.

Paul Kaptein takes pleasure in a quirkier, more gruelling trial.

Using jelutong Malaysian hardwood, he spends several months hand carving wood sculptures.

�Each work becomes a problem that I have to try and solve, so it�s constantly engaging and I find myself asking; �How do I resolve that?�� the artist explained.

�It�s rewarding, encouraging and stimulating.

�I�m really enjoying the work I�m making and whether or not anyone else gets anything out of it is � at this stage � beside the point.�

Kaptein said when he commenced sculpting with wood four years ago, he looked at the process and wondered �How hard could it be?�

�Then I started to do it and realised just how hard it was,� he said.

�At the beginning it was ridiculously slow because I was afraid to make a mistake but after a while I picked up speed.�

His latest work, taking two months to create and exhibiting now at Turner Galleries , incorporates three pivotal symbols of his adolescence: KISS, Star Wars and cricket.

Kaptein describes the piece as a �museum of personal history in one figure�.

�The shoes are Gene Simmons boots with big platforms, which I have shaped to look like cricket pads, and the man is playing guitar with a cricket bat and wearing a Boba Fett (Star Wars character) helmet,� the artist said.

�It deals with ideas of reoccurring and looping time� all these pop culture moments linger. The residue of your history sort of lingers across time as well.

�Those things don�t really depart; they shape you in some ways.�

Kaptein said woodcarving was rare Down Under and deemed a leisure pursuit rather than a serious art form.

�Places like Switzerland, Japan, China and South East Asia have a traditional carving culture, so it�s much more prevalent there,� he said.

�It comes down to a cultural rootedness, which is why it�s not so prevalent in Australia.

�Here it�s much more of a weekend hobby; people go down and whittle something like a walking stick.�

After his gallery exhibition, Kaptein heads to New York for a two-month residency, preparing for an exhibition in the Big Apple in December.

This will be his first major show outside of Australia.


What: Black Holes, Wormholes, Portals and Potholes

Where: Turner Galleries, Northbridge

When: until October 10