Willoughby Gerrish is very pleased to present [X], a solo exhibition of wall based sculptures by Jon Kipps.
X is an abundant symbol and has long been featured in science fiction, mathematics and physics. X can mean unknown, something denied, a problem to solve, a position, a wrong, an indicator of potential and even a kiss. X marks the spot. We encounter cross bracing [X] subconsciously every day for example when we walk under a railway bridge or sit on a chair. The shape gives structural support to all manner of physical objects in our built environment. Now, the richest person in the world uses X to shape his future vision for humanity through ventures such as SpaceX, X.com and even naming his child X Æ A-Xii (X being their first name). Historian Jill Lepore describes our current system, fuelled by Silicon Valley, as X Capitalism. X is around us.
This motif has been translated readily into many of Kipps’ new series of wall sculptures. Whether the symbol is explicitly featured or not they are all imbued with the same kind of unknown and potential meaning X has come to signify. They fit into our environment like cryptic sign posts - beautified, ornate but nonetheless arcane architectural fixtures.
Kipps borrows shapes, textures and compositions from things he encounters each day and translates them into different elements for his sculptures. Whilst the sculptures are carefully composed and the forms can appear assertive, Kipps chooses to undermine this authority by working with waste and unwanted materials. He uses offcuts of beautiful hardwoods, too small to be useful in furniture design and combines them with pulped cardboard packaging. Many of the components of his sculptures have also been given to him by friends that understand his appreciation for unusual and under-appreciated forms, such as fabric from an unwanted skirt, or the gift box from a set of candles. He will often manipulate the materials disguising their original function whilst instilling them with low-fi power, for example by spray painting cardboard pulp shapes to resemble a bronze patina or Portland stone.
Robert Macfarlane in his book Underland, discusses ongoing attempts to design a warning/deterrent system (perhaps a symbol) to protect future civilisations from the dangers of nuclear waste buried underground - a warning that can last across generations and across languages. Kipps has long been curious about the design of symbols, visual communication and how we are encouraged to interpret and perceive the objects that make up our surrounding environments. The impetus for this series of small sculptures came from Kipps considering “what such warning markers designed by me might look like” - a marker that carried and conveyed a contained power and potential risk at a specific location “10,000 years into the future, when our current languages and cultures are completely obsolete.” The futility of such an object is not lost on Kipps. But the challenge of creating these, nonetheless, gives them a positive purpose, albeit with ominous undertones. [X] in this context is not to be unlocked but heeded as a warning.
Jon Kipps (b.1986, Southend-on-Sea) graduated from the MFA Sculpture at Slade School of Art (Distinction) in 2014. Kipps was shortlisted for the Mark Tanner Sculpture Award 2020. Key exhibitions include: Residency #2 (w/ Dimitris Ameladiotis), Gonzo Unit, Thessaloniki, Greece 2021; The Long Goodbye (w/ Dan Pasteiner), U10 Project Space, Belgrade, Serbia 2020; Kuroko, Index Festival, Leeds 2019; Fogou (w/ Stuart Bowditch), May Project, London 2018; Arches and Velvet Curtains, Frank Kent and Jonathan Kipps, Royal Academy of Arts, London 2017; Fifteen, Kate MacGarry, London 2017; TAWI, Dakar Biennalle OFF, Senegal 2016; Jonathan Kipps & Article 25, News of the World, London 2016; Works made in Japan, Musashino Art University, (Boise Travel Scholarship), Tokyo 2014; Re-Launch (commissioned architectural work), UCL Art Museum, London 2014; Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, album artwork, Cooking Vinyl records 2010.