The first thing one notices in Pirgelis’s works is their subtle play with the aura of his found materials—materials that could both be considered industrial waste products or civilizational fragments. Larger than life metal objects lean against the walls like strange relics. Large-scale wall works with scratches, traces of paint and varnish have the look of heavy paintings. Floorboards with drilled holes and traces of carpet recall sections of a heavily used studio floor.
Pirgelis makes surprisingly small changes to the materials he finds, leaving the painted surfaces of most of his objects as he found them. He sometimes sands and polishes certain sections, partially removes logos and lettering or exposes rivet patterns. But essentially, the viewer bears witness to a surface marked by signs of wear and weather, by the sun and desert storms over the aircraft cemeteries. These are complex aesthetic surfaces with obvious painterly references, and the artist presents the objects as a form of found abstraction.
Pirgelis’s works derive their forceful presence from a fundamental self-questioning. The objects are not invented or produced, or even labeled in any way by the artist. Nor are they readymades in a strictly post-Duchampian sense, since the objects’ material and form have become entirely detached from their former function, making it almost impossible to discern their origin. The materiality of the works seems strangely familiar, and yet it is impossible to say why or what exactly is familiar about them. They are objects characterized by a deep-seated uncertainty: an uncertainty that leads them to thwart their own objectness and situate themselves on the threshold of non-objectness.
Pirgelis’s oeuvre defies conventional strategies of considering the artwork with startling consistency. Apart from obvious references to minimalism, post-minimalism, and readymades, some of these works recall Gordon Matta-Clark’s heroic dissections of homes and factory buildings or Rosemarie Trockel’s psychosocially charged objects. And yet they still come across as enigmatically uncategorizable. The urgent exclusion of sculptural knowledge in these works triggers a moment of confusion or disquiet in the viewer. What comes into play is an aesthetics of the indefinable, a sensory effect somewhere between rebellion and the sublime. Not least it accounts for a certain beauty—a beauty of emptiness, of things lived and lost, of semantic abandonment and contingency.