Artist: Robert Onnes

Medium: Corten steel

Year: 2017

Directions to this Sculpture


Doubt/Dogma is a study of the clash of Liberal versus Conservative ideas in today’s world. It speaks to the idea of fixed or “frozen” knowledge against questioning or “liquid” knowledge.

The idea of “frozen” versus “liquid” also relates to artist Rober Onnes’s unique approach to metal sculpture. Onnes is interested in the constraints and possibilities found when using sheet metal (a two-dimensional material) to design three-dimensional forms. His sculptures may have the presence of a cast sculpture (a sculpture formed from molten – or liquid – metal), but in fact Onnes has perfected quite a different method. The use of steel and copper sheets allows the construction of substantial forms, yet they maintain an earthy organic quality which suit the themes of his works.

Robert Onnes is a New Zealand sculptor currently living and working in Detroit. Born in 1958, Onnes grew up on a farm in the Waikato, New Zealand. He excelled in mathematics, science, physics, and art at Secondary school.

Onnes worked in telecommunications and electronics early in his career before completing qualifications as an electrician and working as an electrical contractor until the mid-2000s. His formal training in art began in drawing and painting, but in 2005 he was drawn to sculpture as his primary form of creative expression. His background in electronics and as a developer influenced the use of CAD, CNC cutting and MIG welding in the design and construction of his sculpture.

In 2013, he purchased a historic 1935 factory of 23,000 square feet in Highland Park, MI, and commenced the process of rehabilitating it into artist studios and gallery space. Onnes moved to Detroit in 2015.

KAC’s sculpture biennial returns this summer with new guest curators, interactive art experiences, and locations all over town. To learn more and find a complete listing of related programs, click here.

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