Category Archives: Budding Artist

Jill Mulleady

The gallery Island in Brussels is showcasing work of artist Jill Mulleady in a solo show “El Dorado” until next Sunday. The artist, who used to be active in theatre, shows her latest work in this exhibition, replacing the canvas by iridescent plastic sheets and integrate painting in installations. 


After intending to become a theater director, she heads back to childhood favourite activity painting and attended the Chelsea College of Art. Her uncle was a painter and stimulated her to paint by giving her brushes with her name engraved on them when she was 8. She moved since her London solo show in 2011, “Painting rituals” (book published at Shelter press) where she still used white canvas but used it as a base for her spontaneous poetic brush strokes.

Wars, 2011 Oil on Canvas 160 x 170cm

Wars, 2011
Oil on Canvas
160 x 170cm




Her new work is cold, plastic but retains this poetic touch and outlandish feeling conveyed through her gesture. In an exhibition in Paris “Et dans une explosion de joie”, you see her brushstrokes adventuring outside the limits of the canvas on the walls, obeying only her personal rules, focussing on the process.


Better to go and see the exhibition for yourself on Chaussée de Wavre in Brussels, but hereunder a couple of pictures from the show, courtesy to Island gallery. She once again conceived the exhibition in situ creating a dialogue between the space and her work.




Island 155 chaussée de Wavre – 1050 Brussels

Jill Mulleady website.



New girl in town

Some weeks ago  I visited the presentation of this year’s Wiels’ residents, who had been invited to assume the toilsome challenge of declaring their record and upcoming projects in 12-minutes long power point presentations. Overall, the evening proved an engaging and pleasant occasion for discovering the artists that will buoy up our city’s cultural panorama in the year to come. Several participants caught my eye, and I am delighted to share the word about Svenja Deininger by reposting some images of her harmonious, seemingly abstract paintings on this blog.

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Svenja told me she’s off to a fresh start in Brussels, her studio empty as all her paintings were recently shipped off to New York where they will be exhibited at Frieze (4-7 May, at Galerie Martin Janda, booth A28). So I hope to have the possibility to share more of her work in the future, while leaving you to enjoy the pictures without any explanation for now (indeed, during the evening participants recurrently discussed how much account can there be to an art work without its expressiveness being lost in translation).

 Welcome to Brussels, Svenja!
PS. Austrian by origin, Svenja studied in Germany, first at the Kunstakademie Münster for prof. Timm Ulrichs and later at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where her teacher was the great Prof. Albert Oehlen.
— AEP —

Image is everything: introducing Aurélien Dupuis

What changed when photography, with its inherent possibility of straightforward recording, cheap reproductions and easy distribution, demoted painting as the popular medium of representation?

This question was brought up already years ago by Gerhard Richter, who made his first photo painting in 1962 after a picture of Brigitte Bardot. Tired of capital lettered art, composition, colour, invention, design etc., “painting from a photograph seemed to me the most moronic and inartistic thing that anyone could do”, the delightfully lugubrious German explains in The Daily Practice of Painting (p. 22). The above-mentioned question was later re-stated by Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas, Luc Tuymans and many an emerging painter (read Liv Vaisberg’s series on some different outcomes). But I wonder what John Berger would say about the ‘newest’ world, as seen on screen in facebook updates, tumblr feeds, pins, tweets and prolific blogging? Today, any kid can make a visually appealing picture of the most banal event with the help of a concealing vintage filter on his smartphone (FOAM Magazine had an interesting facebook post on this topic recently). Allegedly, a picture is worth more than a thousand words but some photography has developed to convey nothing at all, making it perfect for equally vacant advertising. As visual communication rapidly gains presence and power, the assessment of its influence is even more topical for painters and photographers alike who reflect on contemporary creation and use of images.

Aurélien Dupuis - Madonne no. 1, 28x35 cm, markers on paper

Aurélien Dupuis takes his inspiration from familiar and over-abundant motifs, such as school and workplace portraits (the series ‘48 portraits’, ‘Employé(e)/Medewerker’), real-estate development catalogues (‘Pavillons’), amateur photographs found on flea markets (‘X’), the Internet or social platforms (‘Enfant + chien’, ‘Madonne’, ‘Dormeurs’). He re-creates these widespread images – hackneyed captures of modern life – using ‘slow media’ such as charcoal and children’s markers, preserving the low definition, pixelisation and overexposure of hasted snapshots.

It is precisely the choice of technique that makes his work compelling despite the uneventful topics, by introducing complexity and pathos. At a first glance, the colourful children’s markers connote a feeling of babyhood nostalgia, but paradoxically, there is also something absurd of a trained painter playing with toys when he could make art, using proper materials. Also his choice of subject is ambiguous. On the one hand, these are pictures of people and situations of no particular charm or consequence. On the other, the painter must think that they are worthy of consideration as he spends so much time and effort re-creating them.

Aurélien Dupuis, Zone Pv_R 11, charcoal on paper, 100x70 cm

Further uncertainty is brought by the fact that Aurélien works in series and with repetitions, which both simulate and challenge the mechanic use of images in media and on the Internet, given the considerable labour that went into the re-creation of the given images.

Moreover, when watching his series, I am often pulled into one picture in particular. When meeting with Aurélien some weeks ago, I asked if the picture of my attraction was better known than the others — it was not, but he guessed that maybe my own memories were projected into the ‘eye-catching’ picture.

Aurélien Dupuis, 'Enfant+chien n°11', markers on paper, 138x120cm

Aurélien does, however, sometimes work from famous pictures: the posers of ‘Enfant + Chien’, for instance, are all anonymous but one, which was made after Andrei Tarkovsky’s polaroid of his family. By showing how certains ‘kodak moments’ repeat themselves, how certain actions become engrained into our culture and habits, the series is put into perspective.

The quality of Aurélien’s work lies precisely in its openness for contradictory interpretations (quite interestingly, in the art world, «confusing» is often close to «compelling», whereas words such as «decorative», «aesthetic» and «commercial» can be used as strong criticism).

On an ending note, I can reveal that in the framework of POPPOSITIONS, Aurélien Dupuis has prepared a series inspired by Belgian administrative clerks for whom the Bruxelles Congrès station was created. If you are in town during the Art Brussels week, come and see the result as well as the works of other emerging artists.

POPPOSITIONS off fair is on at Bruxelles Congrès from 20-22 April, 12-9 PM, with a Friday opening party and performances by invited guests from 9 PM until late. The full programme is updated at the website

— Aleksandra Eriksson Pogorzelska —

Ponyhof at POPPOSITIONS off fair (2)

As was announced in the previous post, Ponyhof will participate in POPPOSITIONS, a brand new off-fair taking place during Art Brussels and exhibiting galleries and other spaces working with site-specific exhibitions. The quirky architecture and spirit of the venue — the Bruxelles Congrès railway station — will constitute the context for showing and seeing the different works.

Not your usual art fair, POPPOSITIONS will host maximum seven galleries and other platforms presenting two artists each: this rule is meant to forestall visual overload. We therefore asked Aurélien Dupuis and Karen Vermeren to represent us. They are both trained as painters but tend to use other mediums than oil whilst keeping a ‘painterly’ quality in their practice, thereby presenting two original approaches to contemporary painting.

Bruxelles Congrès Station, credit: Sarah Suco Torres

Inspired by the station’s underground atmosphere, ribbed stone columns and humid climate, Karen suggested a project linking Congrès to the caves of Han in southern Belgium. As we set forth on this blog already, Karen takes her inspiration from natural sights and tries to capture their beauty and mystery as well as their physical structure and substance, the history and processes that shaped them. Caves play a special role in art history: as venues of some of the earliest examples of painting, as quarries providing sculptors with marble. However, Karen’s interest is primarily geological: she conducts thorough research in order to understand how her subjects function and incorporates these insights into her artistic practice. Tape enables her to create depth and portray the tectonic structure and underlying layers of the mountains that she often chooses as her topics, while her choice of colours and composition provides her work with a “painterly” impression. Finally, Karen always works with site-specific works inserting references to the exhibition space into the work on display. This way, viewers strolling around the exhibition are made aware of both their visual borders and the venue in general.

Welcome back tomorrow for a presentation of Aurélien’s work!

POPPOSITIONS off fair is on at Bruxelles Congrès from 20-22 April, 12-9 PM, with a Friday opening party and performances by invited guests from 9 PM until late. Participants include: Dougie Eynon & Nicolas Bourthoumieux (Abilene Gallery), Gérard Meurant (or nothing), Jan Kempenaers & Sarah Van Marcke (Outlandish), Aurélien Dupuis & Karen Vermeren (Ponyhof Gallery), Stephanie Lagarde & Cyril Verde (thankyouforcoming) and Alan Fertil & Damien Teixidor (The Ister), as well as Théophile’s Papers, Document and Villa Léopolda. A programme of art talks, including curators Devrim Bayar (WIELS, Le Salon) and Emmanuel Lambion (Maison Grégoire, Bn Projects) as well as Agata Jastrząbek and the artist Kenneth Andrew Mroczek on the latter’s book ‘Y€$, I see stars’ and the aesthetics of the public place in Brussels, will be made available on the POPPOSITIONS website
Entry is free and open for all!

Nicolas Van Kerckhove’s painterly loitering

Live in Ghent, or planning to travel through? Don’t miss the exhibition of Ponyhof painter Nicolas Van Kerckhove at De Zebrastraat.

Nicolas’ recent work is a contemplation of the abundance of pictures generated by the Internet, many of whom are very boring — like the captures dispatched by a google street view webcam showing a snow-laden road at different times of the day, or the profile picture of a teenager on skype. Nicolas explained to me that their banality first disappointed, then attracted him: there was a possibility of something happening, someone entering the frame, the profile picture changing to the better. This sense of waiting — ranging from great expectations to simple loitering — hovers over his paintings, providing per se uneventful topics with a very poetic quality.

The very gifted photographer Joke De Wilde visited Nicolas in his studio as he was getting ready for the show. We are very happy to present some of her pictures on the Ponyhof blog.

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The exhibition is on at De Zebrastraat (32/001, 9000 Ghent) from 1 March to 1 April 2012, opening on 1 March at 20.00

Read our text on the uncanniness of Nicolas’ work and visit our website to see more of his work.

Introducing Karen Vermeren

Karen Vermeren is a Belgian artist whose in situ landscapes already caught our eyes some time ago. One rainy Sunday, we met up over tangerines and wine to discuss wanderlust, geology and endeavours of surpassing the usual borders of painting – – – and constructing new ones. We were very happy when Karen agreed to join us at Ponyhof.  

Carrara, Delft, Gullfoss, Ithaka, Mingo Falls, Pech Merle, Snežna or Stone Mountain: these are some of the titles of Karen’s exhibitions, named after natural sights she visited or pictures she saw and rendered in her work.

The conscientious art lover may already have located some of these places: the caves of Pech Merle in southern France, for instance, feature in most art history textbooks as the venue where some of the earliest examples of painting were found (which, as a matter of fact, represented spotty ponies); whereas Carrara, in Tuscany, is famous for its marble quarries which provided among others Michelango with material for his ‘David’.

Others are better known as impressive natural sights, such as Snežna, a Slovenian cave whose permanently negative temperature has given rise to astonishing frozen waterfalls; or Stone Mountain, a geologically outstanding (sic) monadnock in Georgia, USA (even if this enthralling site also holds a sad connotation in American history as it used to be a place of Ku Klux Klan activities: in his “I have a dream” speech, Martin Luther King proclaimed that “freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia”).

Karen, a keen traveller and recurrent laureate of art residencies, explains that she wants to capture the beauty and mystery of natural landscapes (a genre that seems somewhat undervalued in contemporary art), but also their physical structure and substance, the history and processes that shaped them. She conducts thorough geological research in order to understand how her subjects function and incorporates these insights into her artistic practice.

Karen was trained as a painter but uses walls and windows (or paper) rather than canvas as the support of her work, and turns to tape almost as frequently as to paint in her practice. However, the way she uses tape — to create depth, to portray the tectonic structure and underlying layers of the mountains — as well as her choice of colours and composition provides her work with a “painterly” impression. Which she maintains herself: “I was trained as a painter and I see myself as a painter.”

I asked Karen how she came to work this way, and she explained that after a course on murals, which she took during an Erasmus exchange in Finland, she started to find canvas too heavy and restrictive and focused on walls instead as she thought they offered her more freedom. She then began using tape in order to frame her murals, to create sharp borders and endings in the walls. Initially she removed the tape but later let it stay, and, over time, more and more tape found its way to her practice.

Stone Mountain in Brussels, 225 x 184 cm, & tape on plastic, ZSenne art lab, Belgium, 2011.

In this painting, representing a cross-section of Stone Mountain, the use of tape creates layers that are suggestive of tectonic plates, while the colours – pinks and reds growing more intense downward the mountain, conveying increasing temperature and magma movements.

Furthermore, many of her paintings are in situ projects including references to the exhibition space, hereby inviting the audience to take notice of the venue and their general surrounding. Her choice of landscape is never treated at random, but always has a special connection with the exhibition space. Walking around one of her shows, I noticed how the works changed depending on my position, and really liked the way that Karen again tests the usual border between work and exhibition space by immersing latter into former.

Isola Comacina in Knokke : Acryl & tape on window & plexiglass.

Karen mentions Cézanne and Monet as references, but also Per Kirkeby (don’t miss the Bozar retrospective), who was a geologist as well as a painter; Robert Smithson, the earthworks artist; Katarina Grosse, for her use of colour and light as well as crossing the borders of the frame, exploring space and a liking of corners.

Valdera in de Hortahal, Bozar, Brussels

See more of Karen’s work at our website.

—Aleksandra Eriksson Pogorzelska—

Painted images and photography: Painting after Richter and Morley…. (II)

There is another thought I would like to share today with you, following the reading the enlightening article of Barry Schwabsky on Painting at the Age of the Image: how contemporary painting has built up on the heritage of photography, but also went further than simply reproducing a category of images, as Gerhard Richter or Malcom Morley did at their time.

Malcolm Morley (2004) Tackle

According to Barry Schwabsky, artists such as Gerhard Richter and Malcom Morley pursued in essence similar goals as pop artists by choosing the image-realm over some other reality. Whether it is photographs, chosen by those two or comics chosen by Roy Lichtenstein, billboards by James Rosenquist or news snapshots by Andy Warhol, all are clearly limited categories of image material. This very choice was a polemic one, which painters today are no longer busy with.

The difference with contemporary painters, such as Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas and Luc Tuymans to quote only but some of the most influential ones, is that they work in complete detachment from the photographic experience, they do not feel the need like Richter or Morley to represent the seamless “look” of the photograph. The major difference is that the painting remains painterly.

Marlene Dumas (2003) The Kiss

What is engrossing with today’s painting is that painters, although they paint with an aggregate of images, do no longer paint with neutrality but with engagement far from a certain aesthetic distance. They add their emotional stance by freely reinterpreting the photographic image. Situated between the the homogeneity of photography and the heterogeneity of collage, which often are the basis of their work, young painters treat the world they paint as a wholly image.

Céline Felga (2011) Untitled (Drawing and Collage)


“An art that eats its own head – Painting in the Age of the Image” by Barry Schwabsky