Popular contemporary art often works like puzzles. People expect to get some hints, some information or explanation to “get” it. Once the viewer has worked out a little smart trick, he moves on to the next, satisfied to have “got” a visual pun. Ponyhof on the other hand, features works from artists that evoke more mystery, work with multi-faceted interpretations, which don’t require a key to “get” it. We are all about works that suggest, offer clues, but remain out of reach.
In his 1919 essay “Das Unheimliche”, Sigmund Freud discussed the concept of “uncanny” – literally translated into “unhomely” which explains how some objects or situations are both arousing some familiarity feelings and at the same time expressing oddity and strangeness. Uncanny scenes are in a way familiar, already thought or lived whilst they present eerie unnatural elements. This explains why some paintings create a paradoxical impression of attraction and repulsion, such as Peter Doig’s work – one of the most expensive living artists whose exhibitions at Tate Modern and Paris Musée d’Art Modern unexpectedly turned out being blockbusters.
Peter Doig represents scenes that are almost artistic clichés (a boat on a lake, a house in the trees) but always with dismay and eeriness. He often dots his painting, uses dissonant ranges of colours, isolates his characters, chooses angles that transform the viewer into a voyeur…We look at those estranged scenes without grasping them, which forces us to use something of ourselves to understand them, enabled by the elements of familiarity. Doig’s talent is to able to both fulfil and disrupt expectations of beauty.
Celine Felga’s work, one of the first two Ponyhof painters to be featured here, is all about mystery. She often portrays individuals or groups but always reflecting solitude and introspection. By withholding any keys to read her ambiguous paintings, she challenges viewers in reading her intentions. Each painting is a composition inspired by one or several pictures, it has several meanings and interpretation which leaves the viewer free to decide on what he sees in her paintings. She stimulates the viewer’s visual senses by creating distance and feelings of dislocation in a place of accepted familiarity.
Nicolas van Kerckhove is another Ponyhof painter that paints large scenes of uncanniness. He manages to create a tension to his composed landscapes by introducing both atmospheric and unearthly elements. The canvases are composed from images but he succeeds to overcome the danger of fixing a ready-made image by recreating a poetic world both familiar and daunting.
Paintings capturing uncanny scenes are to be experienced, not understood. They add an aesthetic ambivalence, without which those works would be less interesting. This is exactly the type of art that Ponyhof wants to promote. Instead of gimmicks designed to make people quickly reflect on some cultural or social ideas, we presents works that are to be experienced, to be unwearyingly looked at again and again, attracting the eye without ever completely revealing itself.
To see more and purchase works by Celine Felga, Nicolas van Kerckhove and other of our talented painters, go and visit our new website: www.ponyhofgallery.com