Set Within Margins
Marcel Berlanger - Sébastien Capouet - Jan De Nys
curator Jan De Nys
in NewSpace - FrontSpace & ShowCase
from 09/09 - 14/10/2018 - Opening - Saturday 08/09 at 7pm
SET WITHIN MARGINS - 2018 - Marcel Berlanger , Sébastien Capouet, Jan De Nys - digital editing, variable dimensions
Press text of Set Within Margins:
“Set within margins” is an exhibition of creations by three artists from three different generations, who have worked together in the past in different ways, and in a different context: as an artist – gallerist, professor – student, curator – artist. They committed to collaborate as artists for a project in BruthausGallery. A dialogue is created between their artworks and the individuality of the space in the three very different gallery rooms.
Photographic images play an important role in the artistic practice of the three artists. The photos may be taken personally or retrieved from social media, the Internet or publications. The photos are not ready for direct or unmodified use in their original form, but are stored in the artist's image database. They resurface in a recognisable or altered form in photomontages, as part of a collage, or are incorporated in a painting. Each of the three artists has his particular archiving system that can be divided into theme, form and origin. Whether the artist reuses his own visual material or photos from public media, “appropriation” is permitted.
Moreover, the art of painting is omnipresent in the works, sometimes literally as a medium, sometimes as a source of inspiration or the approach to the subject.
In their own way all three examine how they present their work and whether new forms and relationships could be created with their chosen medium. The actual “display” of the works, as well as part of the exhibition's design, reveals other, new possibilities.
The work of Marcel Berlanger fluctuates between figuration and abstraction, between photography and painting, between illusion and deconstruction. The artist plays with a limited number of motifs, which he commits to the canvas in different versions, variations and reproductions: plants, flowers, trees, landscapes, animals and portraits. A selection from the catalogue of subjects of classic figurative painting. He reproduces meticulous photos and drawings plucked from a variety of sources, selected for their appealing and immediately recognisable aspects.
By exploring how the art of painting relates to the image, the works of Marcel Berlanger develop a critical attitude towards the practice of painting itself. The painting not only depicts the subject presented, but also the way in which the image now forms, the resources with which it triggers our senses and evokes memories. Berlanger exposes the techniques used to create the image. The montage, the framing, cutouts and format.
Marcel Berlanger uses a fibreglass and polyester carrier to emphasise the latter’s material aspect and thus the tangible perception of the work. The spectator constructs the work in time and space, which obliges him to experiment with the near and far, with scale and perspective and with the spatial structure of the work. When the spectator approaches the canvas, the brushstrokes and motif fade. They gradually reappear as the spectator distances himself once more. The spectator is compelled to change position and adapt his usual observation mechanisms in order to decipher the artwork.
The artist uses additional techniques to create tension: by spraying, cutting out or perforating his works, or even hanging them in the space or positioning them as a backdrop. These are all ways of breaking the illusion of depth. The artist also plays with conventions and their reversal: the apparently free shading and cutouts do not “erase” the motif, but are applied beforehand. Marcel Berlanger strives to make the spectator aware of the different successive stages of the work, and of his plastic efficiency.
Sébastien Capouet works with photos and paintings and treats them as equals. He refers to the works as “tableaux”. The two media question and mutually reinforce each other in his oeuvre.
The effects of the tableaux do not result from scientific research of a well-defined object, but from the memory of a place and of the sensory and imaginary experience conjured up by the memory: the physical confrontation with a landscape, the resulting symbiosis and the immaterial traces that are engraved on the memory. Capouet's process entails several steps: a journey, the creation of a fictive being, photo shoots, archiving and compiling an inventory, and processing images and patterns in his database. This is followed by the virtual construction of the canvas and ultimately the execution.
Capouet's paintings appear as though they have been created spontaneously in a fluid movement and yet they are extremely well thought out, prepared and constructed. He begins a tableau with a composition of a type of virtually constructed design with the aid of computer software. The paintings are painted as a palimpsest, involving a process of juxtapositions of different evocations. It is a way of conjuring up, activating and updating memories. Each step in the tableau's development is photographed and incorporated in the inventory of memories.
Jan De Nys returned to his career as a visual artist after a 30-year period. We find a number of characteristics of his work from the 70s and 80s in his new photographic work. The fragmented image from his earlier oeuvre, which consisted of details of objects in a repetitive pattern, is now more limited to a diptych or a serial representation of stand-alone images.
Jan De Nys works with photographs he takes himself. They have no scientific documentary value but are intended as a record of surprising objects or situations that stimulate the artist's imagination. They are stored electronically without any registration details. The archive and any search for the elements it contains have to rely on the memory of the artist with regard to the location and time indication of the images collected. Current affairs, human interaction, important socio-societal events are not included.
At first glance the finished images are a pure play on shapes in which similarities and contrasts between the mounted elements justify the existence of the photomontage.
His pictures do not feature any human figures unless they are a reproduction of a representation of a human image.
De Nys strives to stimulate the spectator's imagination with his photos. Social and societal issues are not raised directly, although an undertone of criticism is noticeable in the recent works. Societal issues are subtly noted in a non-provocative manner.
The exhibition of the photographic works in the gallery does not always follow the standard presentation model. Some photos are hung as a connected series and the latest roll-up banners can be easily erected in different positions in the space. The artist also examines other forms of presentation and derives inspiration for presenting the artwork in an alternative way in the commercial and advertising sectors. This means an artwork can quickly be exhibited in a variety of places. Therefore the artwork can also be discreetly implanted in environments in which art is scarce.
The roll-up banner has never been used as a carrier for artwork before. De Nys believes in the cross-pollination between media and sectors, in breaking down barriers between art and advertising, in interweaving museum and commercial forms of presentation and visions, provided the artwork occupies a central position.
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