Starting point for this group exhibition is the artistic practice of Alain Biltereyst and Dirk Vander Eecken, who we represent at the gallery. Both of them are, in their own way, occupied with abstraction in painting. Abstraction in art has a rich history. In the successive modern movements of the 20th century, different ideas and manifestations of abstraction appeared in artists’ works. In the ‘10 and ‘20 European artists like Robert Delaunay, Vasily Kandinsky and Francis Picabia presented the first abstract paintings. After the second World War Abstract Expressionism emerged in New York where Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman developed a new abstraction. Though a lot of key figures where emigres, like Mark Rothko and Hans Hofmann, … it was art’s first definitively American movement. The successive movements generated a range of categorizations: Hard-Edge, Colour Field painting, Geometric abstraction, Op-art, Post-painterly abstraction, … . With this groupshow we present five artists with a unique take on abstract painting. The exhibition, in its variety, confronts us with the art historical and theoretical aspects of abstraction and its contemporary developments.
Johnny Abrahams’ (New York) latest body of work consists of meticulous panel paintings that attempt to demonstrate the dynamic potentialities of line structures found in silk moires. The visual disruptions in fabric are represented by superimposing multiple sets of lines over one another generating a moire pattern that acts as a microscope, magnifying either the figure or the ground depending on the angle that the two lines intersect. A tension is formed between process and outcome in these paintings due to the generation of very organic and natural perceptual forms using only very rigid and precisely rendered sets of lines. Because the works are based on textiles, the grid of the weave is the foundation they are built on, the works however inject entropy and disruption into the fixed grid of the weave and push within the limiting orderliness of the grid to make space for randomness and natural form.
Alain Biltereyst (Brussels) is fascinated by the vividness and struggle of commercial and other signs in the public arena. A poster, a design on a truck, logos, advertisements in the street,… all these signs are part of an everyday idiom, blurring the lines between culture and subculture. Biltereyst highlights the controversy in the exchange of references between art and design. Paradoxically his paintings are inspired by the design that was once inspired by art (Geometric Abstraction and Hard-Edge). Perhaps the mission of his work is to discover and reveal to us this overlap and connection between our visual landscape and its strong artistic influences which we are surrounded by without being conscious of.
The works of Clary Stolte (Amsterdam) can be best described as object research painting projects that consist of a precise research of material properties and behavior that leads to minimal, but at the same time particularly extreme interventions. She uses ephemeral and disposable products (soap, sugar, plastic, acrylic polymer emulsion, hairgel, shampoo) drawn from everyday domestic and commercial worlds in the making of her paintings, drawings and installations. The materials are mostly transparent and it’s possible to apply several layers of a substance. Thus volume develops. A lot of the materials she uses are perishable and start to ‘live their own life’, therefore the works and reality coincide.
The grids and patterns used by Dirk Vander Eecken (Antwerp) are constantly resulting in abstract, almost indefinable paintings. His works consist of many layers, build up by the use of a grid. Because the grids and patterns stay so dominantly visible the optic contstruction starts to confuse. The different layers provoke an endless depth in which ‘afterimages’ may come to existence. Images that weren’t intended but ly in the beholder’s eye. These images are compelling enough that they leave the possibility for seeing actual meaning open.
Egon Van Herreweghe (Ghent) puts forward a radical proposition: there is no image-making operation without taking a distance from images themselves. The proposition arises in the light of his ecologies of thinking about visual culture at large, to the extent of breaking away from its ‘dark side’. Hence, Van Herreweghe goes against the sovereign universe of vision that has never ceased to overestimate its own tradition at the expense of other possible knowledges. Insofar as it exposes the hidden layers of sacrosanct imaginaries, his work is ‘heretic’: it brings to light the traces of violence to which the ‘figural’ is constantly submitted under the preeminence of abstraction. In other words, he questions the histories of human insensitivity towards challenges of the unknown, less visible or invisible worlds of perception. To bring them back to light means to take one’s own right for potential reversals of established ‘regimes of visual truth’ so the forms of counter-visuality could re-appear from the darkness. (Marko Stamenkovic, 2014).