REFLEXIVE FIGURATIONS II
Exhibition March 17 - April 24, 2000
The artists of the exhibition were brought together out of a preliminary hypothesis on the question of correlation and interrelation of abstraction and figuration.
In the recently past century, the art of painting was on the one hand defined and explored from a quest for the pure experience orientated on the object itself, with mend that its constituting elements were seen as absolutes in an abstract way; on the other hand, the reflection on the history of painting became in the post-modern era a mere reserve of figurations and narrative rhetoric. Both tendencies managed to found extensive academic schools, but neither of them could assure painting a conceptual position faced with the current flux of media.
An actual art of painting should combine the logic of the abstract gaze and, the knowing of the iconografical canons. A painterly attitude, which can be indicated as reflexive figurating, because of this stratification.
Britta Huttenlocher achieves in her work a relation between abstraction and figuration with primacy on the abstract: her abstract paintings have a strong rhetorical suggestiveness, but what is suggested remains unresolved within an image. The spectator perceives a suggestion of space, but is constantly pushed back into the play of the elements of painting.
The painting of Aloysius Donia shows a comparable tension between space and the surface of the painting. This work of the expressive oriented Donia does not however point back to the elements of painting, but to a decision to restrain, because he decided, that the suggestion speaks for itself. With a slightly hegelian accent, one could call this "the primacy of figuration in an abstract form".
According to Luc Tuymans the only thing that can equate with the art of painting on the aspect of liveliness is the cinema. His paintings show the image as a moment of a process by the use of the tension between the beauty of the skilful applied paint and the collective image "behind" it. In the development of his work we see, that he is taking more and more distance of the image by an increased presence of the paint.
During a debate in De Beyerd, Michael Kirkham called painting "a disengagement of the actual technology based world". He paints big and almost monochrome coloured areas in well-considered colour schemes. The main element is a body, or a part of it. Behind his apparently unambiguous style, the great diversity in his paintings unveils itself only slowly, and only to an also "disconnected" gaze. Subordinate to the incidence of light and tonality, to layers underneath and the skin, his paintings have a range of different attractiveness. Attractions, which also concern the theme of his figure every time.
Benoît Hermans is an artist who does not have a specific style or handwriting. In his constructions the form is being explored every time again, on base of the material and themes. Out of his mastery of the image reveals a great familiarity with Renaissance painting, although he does not sojourn in that world.
The complexity in the work of David Claerbout concerns the experience of time. We become aware of the shown object or of the image of recollection as an abstraction of what was alive some day, because a trace of this live is still present in a detail or the sound.
Gert Verhoeven considers imagination as a continuation of matter, and of patterns of forms and signs captured in objects. In other words, he works on an aesthetic research of the world, which is at the same time a representation of himself as an artist. But Verhoeven repeats the models for interpretation as in an evolutionary process to a point were the variants escape from it. Originality is not a personal starting-point but the result.
Rinke Nijburg works with graphics, drawings, small and large paintings. Four different techniques, which all fulfil a particular purpose in his development of stories and images. Whereas his paintings and graphics are restless random indications of his world, his smaller paintings with their balanced forms present more completed allegories. The large paintings of Rinke Nijburg are the most complex. That is where his ideas, which are most difficult to formulate, originate.
Fransje Killaars places the attractiveness of the coloured image against the sensual ability to experience her objects and materials. Or vice versa: while people are toughing or even sitting on her work, the objects remain at the distance of the gaze, exactly because of the magnificent display of colour.
To Tiong Ang an artwork is an allegorical astonishment. His central theme is living with and taking care of images. In his recent work this has become more explicit by his references to the making of images by himself or others. Another characteristic is the way Ang avoids suggestiveness, by keeping his paintings empty or veiled. The painting has to be an open exploration of the world.
This exhibition shows an art of painting that is alive. Besides the academic recycling of styles - with or without provoking images and roughness - exists an ongoing development of painting. This persistence can be seen in terms of the constantly changing relationship between abstraction and figuration, and further as varying relations between experienced reality and painting.