Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ponyhof ZondagsGalerij #3: Wouter van de Koot “The Switch”

Ponyhof Gallery shows for its third edition of its ZondagsGalerij works of Wouter van de Koot, who graduated in painting from the Academy of Fine Art in Utrecht (The Netherlands) in an exhibition titled “The Switch”. This exhibition follows  “Cheating Changes” the first Sunday Gallery, a group show with Céline Felga, Jens Hesse and Joseph Jessen, and the second one “Decorative Violence”, a solo show of Valerie Dubois.

The show aims to unveil his process in reproducing images that he initially staged himself and always seeks to re-use.  The exhibition is also meant to be a challenge for the viewer to follow Wouter in his process, to compare the pictures with one another and to make the visual switch.

Van de Koot’s  re- working of an image enables him to take distance and to treat the initial personal and emotionally laden subject matter more and more like an object. In this process he diminishes or sublimates the role of subject in such a way as to allow form a chance to take center stage. In essence, form becomes the subject. He wants to see how far he can get towards the abstract without losing his own feeling with the image.

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“Oh my, there are paintings everywhere!”

…is the sentence I have been repeating the whole day. This weekend was Brussels Art Days, and at my grande surprise, all I saw in downtown Brussels was paintings. I remember three or four years ago going to the Prix de la Jeune Peinture Belge (literally the Prize for Young Belgium Painting) and barely recollect seeing a single painting. This year, there was almost a prominency for painting in Downtown Brussels.  So yes, painting seems to be back for now – you never know painting keeps dying and resurrecting – and it’s not abc berlin contemporary “about painting” which will contradict this, and Ponyhof is happy about it!

Michael Van den Abeele (11 September – 1 November at Elisa Platteau & Cie)

Michael Van den Abeele - Verschijning van het zeldzame aan het veelvoorkomende, 2011 Oil on canvas 89 x 116 cm

David Brian Smith and Oliver Perkins (11 September – 28 October at Galerie VidalCuglietta

David Brian Smith - My soul hath a remembrance and is humbled in me II (2011), Oil on herringbone linen, 180 x 150

Sergej Jensen (10 september to 15 October at Dépendance)

Sergej Jensen - untitled (2009) 55 x 50 cm

Charlotte Beaudry (10 September to 22 October  at AliceDay)

Charlotte Beaudry - Untitled (2011), oil on canvas and wall, 40 x 30 cm

Painted images and Photography: When painting relies on digital media (III)

EBERHARD HAVEKOST works as many of his contemporaries at the intersection between photography and painting, abstraction and representation. He bases his work on preexisting pictures (photographs or video found around, in films, on the internet or made by himself), like many do. What I find interesting is that he digitally reworks the images he finds or takes in order to distance the final painted work towards the original source. But most interestingly, it also reveals the interdependence between the traditional medium of painting and new digital media and techniques. Painting, which claims a regained privileged status towards the overabundance of photographs and films also seems to need to build on them.  And Havekost is not the only one to work like this!

Eberhard Havekost (2010) Flatscreen 2 (1,2,3) B 10, oil on linen, each 109 x 69 cm (Courtesy Robert & Tilton)

Eberhard Havekost re-works digitally images by reducing, enlarging, cropping, stretching and even blurring them. His painted images essentially mimic conventions of photography in their use of close-ups and cropping. However, the image is always recognisable and identifiable, the process is rather subtle and is never so extreme to distort completely the images.  His choice of images seem random and of a deliberate banality. In the vein of Luc Tuymans, Havekost seeks to reinforce the idea that images remain indeed just a representation of reality, no matter how real they seem.

Wouter van de Koot, Into the Hills (2011) oil on canvas, 105 x 80 cm (Ponyhof Gallery)

Similarly but with a completely different goal and result, WOUTER VAN DE KOOT also digitally reworks images that he originally took himself or had taken. He re-enacts a emotional event, such as the birth of his son, by staging himself in position evoking this event. The picture is a first time painted to reproduce it quite accurately and skillfully in watercolour, oil or indian ink. But then he developed a process of reworking the same images again and again, cutting and taping parts, scanning and enlarging them, turning them black and white, modifying the colours to obtain in the end an image highly distanced from the source image. This process enables the artist to destitute the image of its emotional charge and treats it as an object. 

Jens Hess, Bathers (2010), oil on curdoroy, 195 x 110 cm (Ponyhof Gallery)

This reliance of painting on digital techniques is even more perceptible in the work of  JENS HESSE which use digitally distorted image to distance himself from reality and show the shortcomings of the flawless digital world in which we are plunged. He often uses curdoroy or other relief  material to render the LCD vertical lines whilst giving thick brushstrokes at some point to remind that it is a painting with all of its subjectivity and not a simple representation of the image.
See painting of the month Wouter van de Koot.