Foundation 'De 11 Lijnen' is an exhibition space for contemporary art. It is an inspiring place for authenticity and reflection, away from the central art scenes. Artists who fulfil a hinge function and who break new ground are invited to develop a project.
The site is located in Oudenburg, Belgium. Oudenburg was first an old Roman settlement, a castellum along the seaside. You still can find archaeological remains in the ground. The polder has been reclaimed from the sea in the 16th century. Through the polderland you have many sea creeks. The sea water, coming into the land, with its own plants generates a typical vegetation to the polder. Under the immensity of the sky, the flatland seems small.
The North Sea gives the light a special, strong and clear aspect.Foundation 'De 11 Lijnen' is an exhibition space for contemporary art. It is an inspiring place for authenticity and reflection, away from the central art scenes. Artists who fulfil a hinge function and who break new ground are invited to develop a project.
Since the end of the sixties, works on paper have been sporadic intermezzi within Helmut Dorner’s oeuvre as a whole, and they are strictly separated from painting both in time and place. Dorner works on them only during specific periods when he feels that the lighting conditions are favourable and he uses a different studio so as not to confront these fragile works with his large formats. This strict separation may be indicative of misgivings on the part of the artist who wonders just what such intermezzi accomplish, and whether drawings and watercolours can essentially rank on a par with paintings. However, such doubts apply not only to works on paper; they are inherent in Dorner’s work, whose means serve to pursue the question of the picture as synthesis, and whether synthesis is indeed possible at all.
Painting can extend this question in time and substance since it is possible to try and try again, by applying paint, removing it, and covering it with another layer, but the use of aquarelles reduces the question to one fortuitous moment. By means of a few scattered, coloured markings, a configuration emerges in which the movement of the brush, the motif and pictorial space are intertwined. The movement of the brush is hesitant, arrests the flow, coalesces and becomes mere dabs of colour, then turns around and starts again – creeping up on its own intentions. Motif does not mean depiction of an object but rather a chance point of departure – a figure, a thought or a word – which ultimately gives the watercolour its enigmatic form. The execution of the watercolour delineates space not as a container, a box or a stage, but rather as a constantly reconfigured, unpretentious situation, in the process of which the motifs are divested of all personal vestiges.
In spring 2002 Helmut Dorner created a body of pictures in a concentrated period of work, using larger formats than usual, as if to underscore the independent nature of these works. The extremely diluted, pallid watercolours, the brittle mood of the earlier works is now complemented by stronger hues which correspond to the speckled puddles of colour in the recent paintings. In the watercolours these markings are scattered on the paper but do not cover it entirely. They do not start from the centre but rather emerge from the indifferent white by beginning in several places at once. A movement, a line – almost written – or a series of dabs at times lend orientation to the surface. The superimposed watercolour washes seem to cancel out the contradictions which painting is compelled to confront and work out with its own energy. Every watercolour begins with the certainty that it has always already begun and will never come to a conclusive end.
Artist: Helmut Dorner
The E-MAX has been exhibited in 2002 in the art space with a whole of 5 designs and 3 small, unique E-MAX sculptures (h: 90cm). The exhibition included an edition on paper of 40 pieces, which all has been worked on and have been coloured up by the artist.
"The E-MAX is a manpower backpack plane with clastic drive good for a flight of 4 seconds. Rewinded in 1 minute. The weight is 10 kg, the lifting power is 100 kg. The single propellerblade of 2,5 meter with contraweight is folding. It is the successor of the Katapult-MAX, who has a very good rubber-motor, but too small propellers." says Panamarenko.
The exhibition and the book entitled 'Der Ficker' are an act of homage. It is part of Franz West's artistic worldview to try and bring forth an imaginative reaction not only in the observers and the users of his artworks (fitted pieces, furniture, etc.). He shares his thinking with those around him, develop artistic ideas while communicating with others. and encourages gallerist, artists and thinkers to become active themselves. And thus this group of people - Clegg & Guttmann, Jörg Heiser, Benedikt Ledebur, Rudolf Polanszky, Johannes Schlebrügge, Klaus Thoman, Franz West - have come together over the space of a year and brought this exhibition.
With the exhibition title and the presentation of the book that will be published on the occasion by Schlebrügge Editor, the artists refer to the Innsbruch writer and publisher Ludwig van Ficker (1880-1967). In 1910 the latter founded 'Der Brenner' magazine which he also edited until 1954. He kept in close contact with many renowned artists and thinkers of his time, such as Karl Kraus, Oskar Kokoschka, Adolf Loos, Rainer Maria Rilke, Else Lasker Schüler and Georg Trakl, artists whose careers he also advanced as a patron. It is well known, for instance, that Ludwig Wittgenstein bequeathed a donation and asked him to distribute the funds. Karl Kraus famously remarked on the magazine: "That the only truly honest Austrian review appears in Innsbruck one should know, if not in Austria, at least in Germany, whose only truly honest review also appears in Innsbruck." The ironical reference to a magazine and its editor may yet contain the grave admonition that a town should remember its cultural achievements in a timely fashion and, wherever possible, surpass them.
This exhibition shall not only give visitors the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with the works presented and the potential space of their mutual connotations, but itself also endeavours to reach out the cultural setting of Innsbruck. Thus it shows a series of portraits by Clegg & Guttmann that were created in Innsbruck and a group of their famous 'Flesh' photographs; a number of large panels from Rudofl Polanszky's 'Reconstructions' series (1996-2004), as well as videos, stills montages, and ensembles from his fundamental investigations (Der musikalische Affe), Franz West contributes objects presenting well-know and more recent aluminium sculptures "collaged" as models and new sculptures.
Artist: Franz West, Clegg & Guttmann, Jörg Heiser, Benedikt Ledebur, Rudolf Polanszky, Johannes Schlebrügge and Klaus Thoman
Der Ficker. Second Series
2005 Franz West initiated together with Clegg & Guttmann, Rudolf Polanszky and Benedikt Ledebur the Exhibition "Der Ficker" in Innsbruck, named after Ludwig von Ficker, who with his art-magazine "Der Brenner" linked fine arts, philosophy, poetry and architecture in the first half of the 20th century. This Exhibition was shown also in 2005 at the "De 11 Lijnen" in Oudenburg. A second exhibition took place 2006 in the Palais Wittgenstein in Vienna, the group of artists enlarged by Tamuna Sirbiladze and Muntean/Rosenblum, accompanied by the philosophical lectures and poetry-readings.
The different positions of the artists, the different areas of art and the relations between them form a living organism, which to analyze would mean to do the job of a butcher. Nevertheless the connections show themselves and start their interplay with the architectural surroundings in Oudenburg as they did in the Wittgenstein-house in Vienna. Thus the group - Clegg & Guttmann, Benedikt Ledebur, Rudolf Polanszky, Johannes Schlebrügge, Klaus Thoman, and Franz West - have extended their circle since the first "Ficker" a year ago, invited other artists and authors, brought about a new exhibition, further literarily, art historical and philosophic contributions, as well as a new publication: Der Ficker second series.
Artist: Clegg & Guttmann, Muntean & Rosenblum, Rudolf Polanszky, Tamuna Sirbiladze, Frans West
To celebrate Louise Bourgeois's 95th birthday on December 24th 2006, Xavier Tricot was asked by Griet Dupont to organize an exhibition at the Foundation De Elf Lijnen in Oudenburg, near Ostend (Belgium). The title of the exhibition: Un salon pour Louise Bourgeois refers to the "Sunday Salons" that she would hold every week in her house in New York where artists, students, photographers, film makers, curators and amateurs from different spheres could get together and discuss their work and ideas. During these numerous meetings the cross pollination of ideas was not implausible and new friendships were wrought.
We asked Louise Bourgeois to select artists who have a special significance for her. Thus allowing her work to be confronted with works from a diverse selection of artists from different generations and artistic genres. There are works by James Ensor, Pierre Bonnard, Chaïm Soutine, Joan Miro and Medardo Rosso, amongst others. She became acquainted with the work of Bonnard, Miro and Soutine whilst studying in Paris before she left for New York in 1938 after her wedding to the American art historian Robert Goldwater. She first discovered the work of Joan Miro whilst she was still studying in Paris. His art was exhibited regularly at Galerie Pierre near the École des Beaux-Arts where she went to school. His work was a true revelation for her and the expression of a renewed vision of art. In New York during the forties she got to know him personally. Concerning Miro she said:
His move to Paris was not altogether positive; in his early Catalan landscapes and portraits, and his early abstract work, there was a deep emotion that seems to be lacking in his later years.
She got to know the work of James Ensor in greater depth at the retrospective in Antwerp in 1951. In her answer to the question if she had repressed her childhood years, she cites Ensor:
Yes, in fact, repression is not possible. One realises that sooner or later, repression isn't possible and it's very harmful to anyone's creative life... that's why, for example, I really like Ensor. Is that the opposite of repression? He tries to say everything, he tries to spout nonsense. The fact is that he was so repressed that he sometimes said the opposite of that which he wanted to say.
Louise Bourgeois was interviewed by George Melrod in October 1994 and asked about the artists that she had known personally:
Who are some of the artists who inspired you?
My favourite artist is Bacon. I like the way he talks and I like his kind of subjects, and I like his rendering. It's simply true.
Some of your early work almost look like Miro.
Well, my relation with Miro... my dates, you see, have allowed me to know these people personally.
Was Miro a likable guy?
He was a nice person. Bacon was not naive at all. Bacon had a solid intellect, and he loved courage.
I read somewhere that you knew Duchamp.
Yes, right. Duchamp did not trust his emotions. He worked very hard at looking cool. I don't think that he felt cool. He wanted to put up a good front.
He seemed sexually confused in his work. Well, let's not talk about that. [pause] I think Duchamp, if you had asked him that question, he would have said: "Well, why talk about sex? Is that so important?" He would not have admitted that is was terribly important. But he was very witty, and people would have accepted his answer. Bacon, if you had asked the same question, would have said: "My God, I'm dying of it! I'm dying of too much passion!" Pierre Bonnard would have responded: "Do you want to make me cry?" And Miro would have said: "Oh it's amusing." If you would ask Louise Bourgeois: "Sex? What do yo mean, it does not exist."
Concerning Francis Bacon she said:
The intensity of Francis Bacon's works moves me deeply. I react positively. I sympathize. His suffering communicates. The definition of beauty is a kind of intimacy in the visual. I feel for Bacon even though his emotions are not mine.
The physical reality of his works is transformed and transcended. His room does not obey the laws of perspective. To look at his pictures makes me alive. I want to share it. It's almost the expression of love.
In 1999 she wrote an interesting text concerning the English painter first published in the series Repères by Galerie Lelong in Paris.
The affinity that Louise Bourgeois associates with an artist like Robert Gober lies in their search for an artistic representation of Freudian impulses (Eros & Thanatos) as the basis of their work. And where Jenny Holzer is concerned, Louise Bourgeois shared with her the same fascination for the 'statement'. Louise Bourgeois as much as Holzer sought to express 'personal truth' in concise terms. It was like a therapeutic 'medicine' and was for both artists of primary importance.
Artist: Louise Bourgeois, Medardo Rosso, James Ensor, Pierre Bonnard, Joan Miro, Chaïm Soutine, Francis Bacon, Franz Kline, Richard Serra, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jenny Holzer and Robert Gober
Tradition, Expansion, Exile,
Individual paths in Chinese contemporary art
The contemporary art world craves for novelty: the best reason for Chinese art to be so trendy is also the worst one. Chinese art is new, brand new, here is the summary of its appeal. This fascination has indeed consequences in terms of what we see, thus what we like in Chinese art, or what we call Chinese art per se. Emerging through violent performances and radical installations, discovered in the early 90's, Chinese art quickly spread in the international market with an easier product : paintings which directly or indirectly refered to political and social aspects of Communist culture. Another generation relied on video and photography to depict the amazing growth of the cities and the increasing changes in the economy.
But how much of our own culture is projected on this short history of Chinese art? How much of ourselves do we impose on the notion of being "Chinese"? Can the “Chinese art” figure be avoided, and is it possible instead to select a group of interesting artists in China? Once chosen without criteria of age and personal history or carrier, these individual paths have indeed common points, which depict another vision of art, as taking its origin in an Eastern part of the world and in a completely different civilization.
These common points seem to stem from a single principle : the tension between the individual and the group, identity and culture, has been for a long time, and still is for many reasons, completely different in China. History, tradition, ancestors and/or collective attitude are given a much stronger importance in this Eastern part of the world, than in our European culture. Here, in the West, the self, the single person, is somehow always protected, or at least taken for granted, thanks to our definition of philosophy, the strength of psychoanalysis and the developments of Occidental medicine. The shape of occidental art history reflects this definition of the self : avant-garde and invention are at the core of our definition of the 20th century. In China, these notions are still goals to fight for.
Therefore the questioning of what is identity, or the shaping of an artist's critical point of view takes on a deeper significance in the East. There, a singular energy is often defined in contrast to a collective one; difference or critic have had strong consequences in the recent past: whereas emigration, exile, or actual geographical distance... By the same token, collective impulse, and synergies are more respected in Chinese culture; balance and harmonies driven from contrasting forces are considered as positive and a subject in itself.
Individual energies, collective synergy : the exhibition relies indeed on those simple principles. The regional diversity in the artists origins is part of the explanation, but also the width of generations : a group of mature artist, born in the 50's and mostly living outside China, coexist with a younger generation who has stayed and reacted differently to difficult conditions, and a still younger generation who has been quickly recognized by the art world. Still, it is amazing to see how much they have in common : their understanding of tradition as an essential base for aesthetic, their taking into account of the violence of chinese expansion -urban, economical, and the necessity of exile, either actual or metaphorical.
It’s interesting to point how Chinese culture, including visual arts, still refers strongly to tradition as a positive asset, and relies on another notion of time – cyclic, repeating, re using the same forms over and over again. Calligraphy (Xu Bing), classical compositions in ink art (Hong Lei), or found stones (Zhan Wang) are three examples of these recurring forms, treated by three contemporary artists very much in a Chinese manner : that is, not new, but only slightly differently the same. Art lies as much in the slight difference as in the recurrence. The use of actual historical or traditional objects is recurrent in many artists' works (Ai Weiwei), but they can also be mimicked (Huang Yongping) or poetically evoked (Chen Zhen).
A trip in China calls for disgust or fear : the worst of our future is here already in the enormous megalopoles spreading over the destroyed monuments of the past, in an apology of consumerism grown out of years of starvation. Criticism would be too slow, history is over before it’s even started. Very little is left of recent history, and the artist is a rare witness of its ruins (Rong Rong). To react against this massive expansion and this distortion of time, only passive resistance seems available. Either you accept that images are stronger than what they come from, that virtual has taken over the real (Wang Du); or you create very personal images between painting and photography (Qiu Xiao Fei) to save the idea of Past; or again you invent a very personal space, where City rimes with Poetry (Yin Xiuzhen).
An important number of artist have indeed chosen to exile ; the reasons differing from one generation to another. But all of them had to reinvent a specific vocabulary between the rules of tradition they escaped but for a part admired, and the occidental world they had to embrace but with a critical distance. Whether in Paris, France (Chen Zhen, Huang Yongping), Amsterdam, Netherlands (Ni Haifeng), New York, USA ( Cai Guoqiang), they use the medium of installation to mix bits of their original culture as seen from afar, and parts of a world they inhabited as seen from an exile’s distanced point of vue. There is no point in choosing between modernity and tradition, Orient and Occident : as an exile you have to create a go-between space, and an in-between time. Painting as a technique from the past can be used as a mean for an "inner exile" (Xie Nanxing, Wang Xingwei).
Artist: Ai Weiwei, Cai Guoqiang, Chen Zhen, Hong Lei, Huang Yong Ping, Liu Xiadong, Qiu Xiaofei, Ni Haifeng, Qiu Zhijie, Rong Rong, Wang Du, Wang Xingwei, Xie Nanxing, Xu Bing, Yin Xiuzhen and Zhan Wang
'Rose is a Rose is a Rose' is Gertrude Stein's most famous quote from her poem Sacred Emily exemplifying her idiosyncratic, experimental style of writing. Using simple words in different variations and in repetition Stein opened avenues for new metaphors and webs of suggestive meanings that transformed Modernist Literature. The repetitive nuances of her words are drawn upon for this exhibition to introduce for the first time together three significant women artists of the Japanese post war era; Yayoi Kusama, Atsuko Tanaka and Tsuruko Yamazaki.
Artist: Yayoi Kusama, Atsuko Tanaka, Tsuruko Yamazaki
At the occasion of the Triennial Beaufort 2009, the foundation 'De 11 Lijnen' is pleased to announce an open-air exhibition, complementary to the exhibition organized at the Belgian coast by the Kunstmuseum aan Zee, Ostend.
The exhibition presents sculptures from internationally well-known artists in dialogue with an exceptional surrounding, the site of the foundation 'De 11 Lijnen' in Oudenburg.
Giovanni Anselmo, Xu Bing, Louise Bourgeois, Anish Kapoor, Not Vital, Zhan Wang and Franz West have each been invited to install a sculpture in the polder landscape.
'Sculpture in Nature, Nature of Sculpture': the exhibition brings the essence of both together. The experience of nature is transcended by the sculpture with which it is related.
Artist: Giovanni Anselmo, Xu Bing, Louise Bourgeois, Anish Kapoor, Not Vital, Zhan Wang and Franz West
The exhibition is constructed around a recent mirror/glass object by Gerhard Richter; it consists of a selection of works which might be freely read in the context of this reference work. Given that Richter’s mirror/glass is an ambivalent object which reflects its surroundings, including the spectator, and at the same time offers transparency, the exhibition proposes two groups of works which mutually connect.
On one side, adjoining Richter’s mirror/glass, are some works which develop the idea of the reflection, i.e. of the doubling of the image, with the deadpan expression of the mute, tautological object. However, the transparent glass plane in front of the wall suggests also another relationship between object, spectator and space which could be described in terms of architecture. The mirror/glass might suggest the framing of the wall, a picture which rather than offering something for view is part of a construction, letting the ligt pass onto/into the elements of a building.
It seems tempting to follow this path and to place a few works in the exhibition space which deal with similar topics, at times even picking on the theme of the reflection again.
curator of Da Capo
Artist: Richard Artschwager, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Richard Hamilton, Cristina Iglesias, Sherrie Levine, Vaclav Pozarek, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Scheibitz
Drawings & installation by Mario Sala
Pictures alone cannot contain the creations of artist Mario Sala, based in Winterthur. On the contrary, they are the offshoots of work that has emerged within the framework of larger projects. Over the past few years, visitors at museums, Kunsthalles and galleries in Switzerland have seen sketches of projects, pictures and objects, which may be either linked to an installation or function as a self-contained works.
An essential quality of Sala's work lies in the fact that it does not seek identification with genres, such as painting, drawing, or object, but instead observes and uses these categories as things among many others. The object is juxtaposed with drawings and paintings and becomes their counterpart in reality. This explains - almost paradoxically - why Sala possesses such a keen painterly sensibility as evidenced, for example, in his treatment of color. He is most faithful to reality when he appears to be inventing: matter-of-fact observation provides the stuff of his work. His own photographs often supply the point of departure for his pictures. Having made ink-jet prints out of them, he then colors the copies, undermining the reportage value of the original photographs. The subsequent ruptures and destruction, added to and imposed on the depicted scenes, both enhance and endanger the artist's subject matter.
Artist: Mario Sala
Artist: Niele Toroni
In the wake of the worldwide exposure to contemporary Indian art since the last ﬁfteen years, it is perhaps time to focus more pointedly on some aspects of the diversity of practices and the formal and thematic orientations that characterize it. The works gathered in this exhibition reflect two broadly defined axes :
a "minimalist" strain that might come as a surprise to those habitually inclined to think of Indian art as given over to an iconographical excess or a form of "magic realism". For some Indian artists, admittedly a minority, less is more. Work in this vein tends to be abstract, but an abstraction that is sensitive to the materials and mediums in question.
The other axis focuses on works rooted in a concrete social reality and reflects the vicissitudes of living in urban India. The representational strategies deployed manifest a lively interest in popular culture and vernacular idioms as well as art historical references. There is often an element of play, sometimes with a sly subversive edge.
The spare, pristine drawings of Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990) are unique in the history of Indian modernism for their exemplary rigour and precision. Her ﬁnely calibrated grids and razor-sharp lines and dynamic diagonals envision a non-objective world even as they describe an abyssal space.This striving for a spiritual poise also imbues the reﬁned geometrical forms, exquisite concision and subtle materiality of the works (in a variety of printmaking techniques) made by Zarina Hashmi (b.1937). Her acute sensitivity to the nuances of surface and texture ﬁnds an echo in the expanses of white monochromes inscribed with gold wire proposed by Prabhavathi Meppayil (b.1965). Their intriguing "emptiness" is a foil for the extreme delicacy of her transposition of artisanal techniques, namely goldsmithing, as a way of engaging with that emblematic modernist structure par excellence, the grid. The economy of means as both a formal procedure and a moral position is exemplified in the mixed media work of Sheela Gowda (b.1957). The poetic resonance of the seemingly archaic substances (such as cowdung, incense ash, rope) deployed by her also betokens a "truth to materials" that is the ethical and anthropological basis of her art.
Other kinds of "poor materials", but whose provenance is in the lower depths of popular urban culture, are mined by Chila Kumari Burman (b.1957). Her witty collages and sculptural installations revel in the specious glitter of kitsch as a perverse element of female embellishment and empowerment. "The women's question" has also long been the motivating device of the paintings of Nalini Malani (b.1946), but her pictorial frame of reference is more attuned to the image bank of the museum. Her works are complex allegories of female subjectivity as transcoded by archetypes in mythology and their art historical representations. In contrast, the paintings of Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003) usually focus on the male body and the peculiarly Indian forms of conviviality in which it participates. His work affectionately chronicles the humdrum events and the occasions of social bonding in the everyday life of small town India. A more ironic and detached vision of the realities of the urban landscape is to be found in the work of Atul Dodiya (b.1959). He conceives of pictorial representation as a kind of conceptual jest, an artifice through which to frame the sheer heterogeneity (often verging on incongruousness) of the visual environment of metropolitan India. The imploding contradictions signalled by that environment is a major theme in the paintings of Jitish Kallat (b.1974). Fully assuming the infiltration of painting by the various technologies of mechanical reproduction, his mediated images are best described as agit pop, halfway between the civic imperative of the public mural and the seductions of the commercial billboard. Their heraldic frontality could be contrasted with the delicate figural delineations in the paintings of N.S. Harsha (b.1969). At once wry and comic and endearingly eccentric, his works are parables of the circulation of cultural signs and the manner in which these are interpellated in the "great game" of globalization.
Artist: Nasreen Mohamedi, Zarina Hashmi, Prabhavati Meppayil, Sheela Gowda, Chila Kumari Burman, Nalini Malani, Bhupen Khakhar, Atul Dodiya, Jitisch Kallat, N.S. Harsha
Art arises out of a want, out of a longing for the elusive. (Van Severen, 1994)
Since Dan Van Severen passed away in 2009, critics and art lovers unanimously agreed on the quality of his work. Van Severen left behind an oeuvre that is instantly recognizable in its deceiving simplicity. The line, square, circle and cross, geometric motifs that have marked Van Severen's oeuvre since the sixties have evolved over time, but the essence of the work never changed. His art arose from the attempt to join the two extremities of his personality: on the one hand there is the Dionysian aspect, marked by his love of life and laughter, on the other hand the Apollonian search for an ideal, platonic form of beauty, calm and simplicity. At the merging of these binary opposites, the seemingly formalistic geometric forms arose and became the foremost essence of his work.
At first glance, the work of Van Severen might belong to the abstract fundamentalist school of painting, but attempting to place his artistic attitude within this school is an external assessment of his vision. In fact, his formal and ascetic formalism conceals a deep romantic aspect. Dan Van Severen longs for the elusive, the universal and the absolute. He does not repress his own subjectivity, despite the reduction of the formal aspects of his work.
Van Severen shares this enduring passion to search for an essential, ideal truth in art with contemporary minimalist artists Ad Reinhardt and Agnes Martin. Additionally, Van Severen was a great admirer of Brice Marden. His Suicide Notes (1972-73) in particular struck a chord with Van Severen, for their merging of minimalism with an organic fluidity.
To Dan Van Severen, fundamentalism is no solution concerning the autonomy of art; he accepts the intermediate function of his painting, and even aims at extra-artistic goals. The canvas then becomes a manifesto of the artistic individual for Van Severen, enabling him to create a means of communication that is less subject to confusion.
Leonardo already knew that the plastic language is much more synthetic than the literary language, as the latter evolves. One cannot read – and much less grasp – a poem at a glance. The two-dimensional work of art is synthetic. (Dan Van Severen)
As early as 1957, Dan Van Severen started to turn towards an "economical synthesis". From this moment onwards, the artist modifies his means culminating in the rejection of the oil-painting technique and in the recognition of the autonomy of the vertical element, in the 70’s. In 1969, he made his last oil painting "particularly to get around its materials consequences". He then used different materials such as tempera, ink and charcoal.
The Stations of the Cross (1981) is the provisional copingstone of the artist’s reductive evolution: a series of 14 parts, in each a horizontal line is intersected by a number of vertical lines. It stands as both answer and tribute to Barnett Newman's eponymous paintings.
While Van Severen continued to reduce his artistic alphabet in his geometrical oeuvre, he never stopped drawing figuratively. From the Eighties onwards he exposed some of these figurative works on select occasions. It is remarkable that Van Severen’s flowers bear such a striking resemblance to Ellsworth Kelly's.
This exhibition is an attempt at dialogue between Dan Van Severen and the abovementioned artists.
The exhibition runs from April 8th till July 9th 2011.
Open Fridays & Saturdays from 2 pm to 6 pm, and by appointment.
Adress: Groendedijkstraat 1, 8460 Oudenburg
Tel: +32 59 27 07 57
Fax: +32 59 27 07 59
Artist: Dan van Severen
Hands in the Prints of Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns has been using his own handprint as an element in paintings, drawings, and prints for close to 50 years. This exhibition presents many of the lithographs and intaglios that demonstrate not only the wide variety of effects he has achieved through this deceptively simple device, but his mastery of printmaking techniques.
The first time Johns used his hands as a component of a work was in 1962, in four Study for Skin drawings. These were made by the artist covering his face and hands in oil and imprinting them on paper. Since these drawings were studies for a 'rolled-out' sculpture of a head, this first manifestation of the artist’s hands can be seen as incidental. However, later that year handprints appeared as focal points in several important paintings, including Diver, Land's End, and Periscope (Hart Crane), as well as in large drawings.
Revisiting established subject matter is a hallmark of Johns's sensibility: I like to repeat an image in another medium to see the play between the two: the image and the medium.A year after the Skin drawings, the artist began to explore the imprint theme in lithography at Tatyana Grosman's Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE), on Long Island (where he had made his first prints in 1960). The results were Hand - a 'test' of whether oil or soap would be the best substance to transfer the impression of Johns's skin to a lithographic stone; Hatteras, and two stones that were later realized as Skin with O'Hara Poem and Pinion.
Since then, Johns has periodically returned to the motif in both paintings and prints. This has included 'rephrasing' the themes of the 1962 paintings Land's End and Periscope (Hart Crane) in lithographs at Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles and intaglios at London’s Petersburg Press; and making several large triptych intaglios at ULAE after the 1984 painting, Untitled (Red, Yellow, Blue).
Of note among the many 'Savarin'-themed lithographs and monotypes in which hands make an appearance is the large monotype with a background of handprints in secondary colors — reminiscent of prehistoric cave painting; and the Savarin lithograph of 1981 that references Edvard Munch's famous image (also a lithograph) Self-Portrait with Skeleton Arm, but with Johns’s 'living' arm in place of the skeletal one and a Savarin can replacing Munch’s likeness (Johns's Savarins can be viewed as metaphorical self-portraits - the artist as his brushes - as well as still lifes).
An intriguing recent use of hand imagery can be found in Fragment of a Letter (2010), an intaglio diptych that contains the same excerpt of a letter from Vincent Van Gogh to his colleague Emile Bernard in each panel — but the words on the left-hand side have been rendered in sign language, in a multiplicity of miniature, gesturing hands, and Johns has 'signed' (in two senses) his full name in larger versions of the hand symbols in rectangles mirrored in the respective panels. There is a large handprint at the bottom of the right-hand panel, reflecting Van Gogh's signoff to his friend with a 'handshake'.
These elements are much more literal than Johns usually allows, but the 'farewell' handprint is still somewhat enigmatic, regardless of the presumed textual equivalent. The hands in the artist’s other prints project outright ambiguousness. They may be imagined as suggesting a greeting, or symbolizing peace or friendship, or indicating a warning or admonition, or signaling distress, or more than one of these at once; or something else entirely, including functioning as neutral embellishment. They do not elucidate the works they are a part of, but enhance the inherent mystery of the whole.
The exhibition runs from November 20, 2011 till February 11, 2012.
Open Fridays & Saturdays from 2 pm to 6 pm, and by appointment.
We are closed from December 24 'till January 5, 2012.
Adress: Groendedijkstraat 1, 8460 Oudenburg
Tel: +32 59 27 07 57
Fax: +32 59 27 07 59
Date: 2011 - 2012
Artist: Jasper Johns
On 22 March, it is one hundred years to the day since the birth of the American artist Agnes Martin. To mark the occasion, The Foundation 11 Lijnen in Oudenburg has organised an exhibition in homage. Works by Agnes Martin are surrounded by paintings by Marischa Burckhardt, Robert Ryman, Merrill Wagner and Anne Appleby. The result is no minimalist ensemble, but a warm exhibition about nature, light, landscapes and friendship. Despite their tough reputation, the artists exhibited do not see themselves as minimalists. Agnes Martin considered herself to be an abstract expressionist and Ryman calls himself a realist. Burckhardt, Wagner and Appleby have a special interest in nature. After Agnes Martin left New York in 1967, she withdrew to the desert of New Mexico and stopped painting. Samuel Green, the former director of the ICA in Philadelphia, and a good friend, insisted that she should pick up her paintbrushes once again. I won't let you go, he warned, before you return to painting. And in 1974, Agnes Martin painted for the first time in seven years. She made a splendid series of fourteen small paintings, which are exhibited here for the very first time, thanks to the generous proposal of James Mayor, the London gallery owner and admirer of Agnes Martin.
March 25 - June 30, 2012 | Open Friday and Saturday from 2-6pm
Artist: Agnes Martin, Marischa Burckhardt, Robert Ryman, Merrill Wagner, Anne Appleby
Like the hidden expanses of the oceans themselves, The Work of the Ocean abounds in rumour. We enter a quietly disconcerting domestic space, a series of areas full of the usual signs of home that has been created by collapsing Griet Dupont's house into the exhibition rooms of 'De 11 Lijnen'. There is a rumour that there are miniature artworks by Adrian Villar Rojas somewhere in here, resting amongst the furniture and decor. Small figurines made from epoxy putty. Rumour has it that they are replicas of some of the eighty clay originals that the artist created for dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel in 2012. The clay originals have themselves disappeared to become their own rumour; like all of Villar Rojas's clay sculptures, they were created for a specific time, to be destroyed after their exhibition. Clay is a privileged material for Villar Rojas; as he revealed to me in 2011:
'...clay enabled me to build fossils: I could fossilize whatever I wanted, and thus I could work with time. I could fictionalize the passing of time by representing its effects on matter.'
The discovery of clay was an epiphany for the artist; as he says, 'I could build my own ruins'. But clay has a deeper significance beyond this, as an elemental life force: 'I dare to say that clay itself has pretty much been the ideological, narrative and aesthetic engine that engendered the universe.'
The epoxy putty replicas in Brussels are, then, twice removed from works that were themselves the signs of an elsewhere, of another time and another space. In Kassel, the large works told of geological time, of the epoch of human existence and its eventual disappearance. Grand monuments to entropy and extinction, the interplanetary, the hypothetical and the multiversal.
Villar Rojas has spoken to me, in geophysical terms, of wind, rain and sun as 'sculptural forces', but also of the otherworldly and the fantastical, of science fiction, and romantic heroes like Kurt Cobain. Here, at 'De 11 Lijnen', we seem instead to be brought back, with a dull thud, to the present tense of everyday life in the affluent North in 2013 - to Belgium perhaps. Curtains and cushions. The material shift from clay to putty means that the miniature works are not susceptible to the same processes of decay that were so important to the Kassel works, as they are to all of Villar Rojas's clay sculptures. Without this degradation, they are unable to function as the sign of decay, and the sign of time. The durability of their material renders them 'conceptually feeble imitations' of the originals, as the artist has put it. Villar Rojas speaks of 'impoverishment'. Indeed, they are a paradox, doubly 'deprived of their condition as ruins'. Among the miniatures, some are derived from the human figure sculptures shown at dOCUMENTA(13), and yet they are less than human, and rather closer to the throwaway commodities and junk that fills ourhouses, and that tends to gather and accumulate from nowhere like a rumour.
There is a third space, a third rumour: a brick-farm in Rosario, Argentina, Villar Rojas's home city. Here, a sculptor from La Plata, near Buenos Aires, has produced the epoxy works under the supervision of Villar Rojas, having previously assisted the artist on his project for Kassel. A number of the miniatures have their origins in the brick-farm - a family of horses, some dogs, a child with a knife - and so the Belgian installation functions as a tapestry of quotations drawn from two worlds. A brother and a sister are at the centre of this rumour; they have travelled from Argentina to Belgium carrying only the small sculptures and two video cameras. On arrival at 'De 11 Lijnen', they have set about fabricating the domestic space within the expanded gallery, situating the sculptures, and filming each other in the process for a period of more than twenty days. Rosario itself becomes what Villar Rojas calls a 'ghost'; it is present in its absence from Oudenburg in the shape of an exquisite publication that functions as a record of the brick- farm project. Villar Rojas, it is true, has an urge to document. He constantly records by way of photographs and videos. This impulse relates to his desire to create monuments, which he has explained to me in terms of his 'strong feeling of having to fix things, to fix moments as a way to save them from a sort of nothingness, which inexorably dooms everything and everyone'. Documentation also arises as a key aspect of his working practice because process and becoming are his enduring subjects.
As he has told me:
'I feel that something beneath and beyond the sculptures is going to happen, something in the process itself ... it is not about the final works, but about what happens in-between.'
The Work of the Ocean is expansive. It could perhaps be considered the afterlife of Villar Rojas's Kassel project, which means that it has crossed the ocean twice, from Europe to Argentina, and back to Europe again. What has happened in-between here is an epic journey of retrieval and reconstruction. But like a rumour, it is founded in disappearance. There is an absence at its centre, which is revealed to be time itself. Time dwindles with the loss of its material trace. There is only the ghostly present, ever facing its decay.
April 20 - July 13, 2013 / Open Friday and Saturday from 2-6pm
Artist: Adrián Villar Rojas