July 17, 2020

Toon Verhoef | The laboratory of painting | 25. July - 22. August 2020 | New opening hours: The gallery is open friday and saturday, 1 – 6 pm and every day by appointment     

Meandering thoughts, experiments, ideas, but ones free of preconceived intent: that's what the sketches of Toon Verhoef are. Cautiously, hesitantly and, at the same time, in a direct and spontaneous manner - as only sketches allow - Verhoef builds a new image time and again.  Always seeking a balance and then disrupting it. This is how he pushes himself to a limit, stretches the visual tension in order to create an unexpected image which, despite its friction,  remains on the verge of falling apart. He produces these on a daily basis and keeps them in small sketchbooks. If the image stays intact, it ends up in his painting studio. There he gradually distances himself from these images by rendering them into monumental paintings. Those are executed according to an ingenious procedure in which he attempts, as far as possible, to rule out his own handwriting.

 

But this time Verhoef has used his sketches as the basis for larger works on paper. "Sketching is the laboratory of painting," says Verhoef. In drawings, you might say, that laboratory phase remains visible and the artist as creator is more present than ever.

Over the past months Verhoef has been posting his sketches on Instagram every day, alternating these with artworks, films, architecture and music. None of these are literal sources for his work, as is indeed the silhouette of the dancer on the 'Gitane' cigarette package that was used by him various times, but they represent a few of the countless influences that have shaped him as an artist. Think of the architecture in Buenos Aires, where he grew up, the films of Jean-Luc Godard which sometimes lack any narrative context whatsoever, the immense sculptures of Alexander Calder, or Meret Oppenheim's fur-clad teacup. These are often spatial experiences linked with time, like film and music; art forms that frequently affect us physically and for that reason tend to stay with us. Fascinating choices for an artist who deals with a two-dimensional surface and who, 'coming from' conceptual art, eliminates space and illusion from his work as much as possible.

 

How do you take a stance toward this as a painter? As Verhoef sees it, there are many arguments for objecting to painting - for objecting to a canvas worked on with paint and brushes. The painter can even wonder how long this should go on, raise the issue as to whether anything new can be added after so many centuries; or, whether the act of painting might actually still be relevant today, and not too limiting. Apt questions that Verhoef is constantly asking himself. And yet, at the same time, he can't think of anything that he wouldn't be able to express through painting. As long as he can keep on raising the tension, allowing himself to do what seems impossible, and can shift and arrange unexpected elements and clashing colors until spaces open up and bring the image to the brink of eruption. While the viewer anticipates this with every second, Verhoef expands time and gives rise to his own cliffhanger.

 

Esther Darley                                                                                                                                      translation: Beth O'Brien

New opening hours: The gallery is open friday and saturday, 1 – 6 pm and every day by appointment


June 3, 2020

Veron Urdarianu | Houses for the Mind and More 6. June - 4. July 2020 Opening Hours friday and saturday 1 - 6 pm and by appointment. There will be no opening.     



Follies, observatoria, kluizenaarshutten…  de ‘architectonische sculpturen’ van Veron Urdarianu nodigen uit te dromen over een plek om je in terug te trekken, om er nader tot jezelf te komen of je relatie met de buitenwereld te overdenken. 

Nu die afzondering een noodzaak is geworden, een verordening bijna, zijn Urdarianu’s sculpturen actueler dan ooit. Garçonnière or House with the lemon Roof, 2020 is gevangen in een glazen container. Een paradoxaal beeld: een vitrine die het werk op een voetstuk plaatst, veilig en onkwetsbaar maar die tegelijkertijd de benauwing van de quarantaine onderstreept.

En toch gaat Urdarianiu’s werk over alles, behalve een gebrek aan vrijheid. Zijn ‘modellen’ bestaan juist bij gratie van zijn vrije geest. Ze barsten uit hun voegen van speelse suggesties: een huis op een skatebord, daken en wanden die als ware transformers wegklappen tot open ruimtes of een hut die door dunne schroeven even van het roerige aardoppervlak de hoogte in wordt getild, als een moderne versie van Hieronymus’ studio. Doordat Urdarianu niet wordt gehinderd door constructieve beperkingen en praktische bezwaren zijn zijn modellen zowel ‘eenman-utopieën’ met onbegrensde mogelijkheden, als ruimtelijke tekeningen en uitdagende sculpturen. Ze laten ook zien hoe vastgeroest onze ideeën over architectuur zijn. Kunnen deze onorthodoxe ruimtes echt bestaan? Bieden ze oplossingen voor noodbehuizing om geruïneerde gebouwen op alternatieve manier weer bewoonbaar te maken? In die zin ogen de werken paradoxaal. Als sculptuur is er geen speld tussen te krijgen, als bouwmodel lijken ze een pleidooi om alle regels over boord te gooien.

Esther Darley 

 

Follies, observatories, hermits’ cells... the ‘architectonic sculptures’ of Veron Urdarianu invite us to dream about a place of seclusion, one that allows us to get closer to ourselves or contemplate our relationship with the outside world.

Now that seclusion has become a necessity, almost a regulation, Urdarianu’s sculptures have become more relevant than ever.  Garçonnière or House with the lemon Roof, 2020 is imprisoned in a vitrine. A paradoxical image: while the glass display case sets the work on a pedestal, as it were, making it safe and invulnerable, it underscores the airless confinement of quarantine.

And yet Urdarianu’s work is about everything, not only a lack of freedom. His ‘models’ are, in fact, the very product of his free imagination. These teem with playful suggestions: a house on a skateboard; roofs and walls that hinge open, like veritable ‘transformers’, to become vast spaces – or a dwelling lifted, by thin screws, off the earth’s turbulent surface, like a modern-day version of St. Jerome’s study. Because Urdarianu isn’t hampered by constructive limitations and practical issues, his models are ‘one-man utopias’ with boundless possibilities, but also three-dimensional drawings and defiant sculptures. They moreover show how ingrained our conceptions of architecture are. Can these unorthodox spaces actually exist? Do they offer solutions for emergency housing that would make derelict buildings habitable again in an alternative way? In that sense the works come across as being paradoxical. As sculptures they are unassailable, but as building models they question the rules and seem to encourage throwing them overboard

translation: Beth O’Brien

 



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