The theme of “being” and “not being” is a red thread throughout my work.
After a career as a painter from the early 80s until the early 90s, I stopped making art for a number of years. I prepared myself for the next phase of work, making small objects at my kitchen table, within the constraint of lack of space.
Some smaller works such as the books in the exposition, but also man-size ones. In these works I am very much turned inwards. For instance, the man with the penis-head (“What I do is yelling very hard that I am there, to not have to be there. I yell!”) is talking to himself. As are the Twins, sculptures of connected heads. From the same period is the sculpture of the man with a box over his head and all his belongings hanging out from under the box ( “My house at the edge of society”). The theme of a refuge, a shelter as a place in which I can reflect about the world, like a closed monastery or a monk’s cell. A place of (inner) activity, separate from the world. The “bunker” on the podium is such a place, connected to the world only through a tiny slot in front. It brings up memories of children building homes for themselves with tables, chairs and pieces of cloth. In this place of solitude a person can ask questions about being and non-being (Ich Bin’s)
In my development as a person and as an artist I was drawn to the notion of landscape, as a place to step out into, from my inward focus into the world. Expressed by the monotype etchings showing a bunker within a landscape. This work is multilayered as it is also about seeing and not seeing, the bunker not being very obvious. Some of the etchings have the word Landscape on it in Braille. The artist wonders what associations or constructions blind people make around the notion of landscape. They see and they don’t see. Yes and No.
The 5 sculptures in the main room of the gallery, “Jumper” express different stages of a person making a summersault around his own axis. The sculptures are still, yet in movement, displaying fragility, shame and surrender. About the risky business of a summersault, as one can fall and hurt himself. Risks which I associate with stepping out of the shelter into the landscape itself. The world is an unstable place. A wedge can at best hold it still. The small sculpture
of the man standing on the hill (“The enigma”) contemplating the world is an illustration of this. The next step is the man firmly rooted with his feet into the earth, “Man in landscape”. As a bridge into a concept in the making, “squares” of earth taken out of the land.
Repetition is a constant in my work, “nearly autistic”. Not one sculpture but 3 or 5. Not 1 etching but 60. Not 1 head but 160. The room filled with heads is an illustration of this theme of order and repetition. Kneeled on the ground one can see these heads as a freshly plowed field, a landscape, that one does not dare thread upon because it is fresh and perfect. The clay of the heads is returning to its origin and becomes part of the earth again.
“Ein kopf ist ein kopf” is about an object placed into a space, coming out of the form. It is inspired from a lesson by an art school teacher, saying “a head is a head, and it is made out of 2 circles”. The prints are unique monotypes. Like all the other etchings they are based on existing drawings or existing objects. Such as the series of etchings showing (damaged) brains “Today I have a longing for here”.
“Why do we need painting? What is the use of philosophy?”. These and other questions and statements I ponder are shown on a series of busts. With my own body as a starting point, my place of shelter, and the only body I really know. My work can be summarized by “1 +1 = 3”
Karin Verhaest, Hespert, June 2, 2012 - based on an interview of the artist