Simply describing David Fesl’s sculptures would be inappropriate to their spontaneous craft. These delicate, palm-sized assemblages are formed with intense scrutiny and short bursts of activity over many long, staggered sittings; so, this companion piece spares chronology and instead offers words that mirror the processes he takes to make them:
Sift – scattered waste and found ephemera is surveyed on his studio desk, before being classified into elementary groups of shape, colour and form;
Contemplate – he’ll arrange his finds across empty desktops, some objects which have quietly lingered for years, others which hold his current attention;
Gather – in search of the enigmatic, he resists obvious connections, preferring contradictions of texture, whether soft or hard, rough or smooth, solid or friable;
Probe – some warrant David’s intrusion, as he’ll either fastidiously clean or tweak them to fit his vision; others are left in their found state, appreciating dirt or patina;
Surprise – he won’t plan a path to collecting his ingredients; each arrives within his grasp more fleetingly, burdened with their own identities and differences;
Stage – made of four to eight parts, he moves his initial visions back and forth between desk and wall, honing after much close inspection before deeming them complete;
Reflect – the gallery room they eventually hang in is, to David, central to what communication they impart – he asks his sculptures to be read together, as a seamless, unending story rather than even discreet chapters of a whole;
Obfuscate – he spares onlookers anything which can limit how they are perceived, the pieces revelling as, simply, ‘Untitled’, as if continuations of the same circuitous sentence;
Challenge – here, he has placed a few pieces on a long, purpose-built shelf, which obstructs entry into the first doorway;
Skitter – for viewers, this display encourages us to dart our attention above, across and sideways, taking heed of the room’s architecture, an effect David knowingly plots beforehand;
Chance – as well as the objects he stumbles upon, other elements he can foresee but can’t control await – light, for instance, and as vibrant Lisbon days emerge the shifting sunshine reveals his exhibition, like once-lost relics now under a spotlight, the minutiae of their details becoming clearer as the hours pass, until they retreat into shadows at nightfall, as if buried again in the earth where once they were found.
– Targett, Ted. Lisbon: ADZ, 2022 (exhibition text).