‘These vessels are ever tangible, powerfully forceful, fascinating the beholder, who always discovers something new, something different, something never seen before… Gamperl’s great secret lies in the way he seems able to playfully conjure an infinite array of new facets from his medium.’ (Prof. Dr Florian Hufnagl, The International Design Museum – Neue Sammlung, Germany).
Master craftsman Ernst Gamperl has revolutionised the practice of wood turning by developing entirely new modes of working that push it to its technical limits. The artist principally uses the mighty European Oak tree and carefully selects his immense logs from sustainable sources – either from trees that could not stand their ground against the wind or were felled due to decay.
Ernst turns the oak when it’s green and supple, to work in dialogue with the wood before arriving at a final shape; he is an expert in its drying properties and prophetically reads its movement as the sculpture finds its undulating form. The artist eschews uniformity and celebrates the imperfections present in the material, which tell the story of the tree’s momentous life and energy; the curved edges and bulges, the projections and indentations that emerge out of the natural deformation of the wood are an essential part of Ernst’s design. The immanent expressive power of the material is underscored by Ernst’s treatment of the surfaces: waxing and polishing, scrubbing out the streaks or carving filigree parallel grooves like velvet, contrasting smooth and shiny areas with rough-hewn, deeply scarred sections. These enriching elements draw us ever closer to the piece; the profundity of the work lies in Ernst’s ability to mine the emotional resonance that lies within the wood.
Ernst won the ﬁrst Loewe Craft Prize in 2017 in recognition of his craftsmanship. His work is part of many international collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, UK; Fond National d’art Contemporain France; Museé des Arts Décoratifs de la Ville de Lausanne, Switzerland; The International Design Museum/Neue Sammlung, Germany; Collection Issey Miyake, Japan; and Amorepacific Museum of Art, South Korea. His solo museum exhibition, Dialogue with Wood, opened at the Gewerbemuseum Winterthur in Switzerland in 2019 and toured to the Korean Craft Museum in Spring 2020.