Past: January 12 → February 23, 2013
This new exhibition by Pieter Vermeersch comprises three elements, offering a broad insight into his way of working.
At first sight, the paintings in the new series look ethereal. They could be seen as continuing in the vein explored by the postwar Color Field artists. They are big enough to envelop the viewer in their chromatic perfection, creating an experience that cannot be put into words.
These paintings enable a reverse depth, they are condensates whose process becomes explicit in another part of the exhibition, where photographs are presented in the middle of big white sheets. These photographs which concentrate the gaze should be viewed as indexes affording access to the processes in Vermeersch’s new large-format paintings.
Pieter Vermeersch photographs the sky, usually at night, sometimes providing information as to the urban context, but without clouds, which might induce an overly narrative quality in the image. These photographs serving as the basis for pictorial work are printed in negative in an attempt to reach another side of reality, so to speak. The ambition is utopian, but like many utopian ideas is an effective motor for art-making.
The colours of these photographs printed in negative escape the artist’s control and give him the freedom to concentrate on the unknown zones of painting. In the “negative” the colour blue switches to a pale, unhealthy orange. These vague, “negative” colours in the photographs are then reproduced in Vermeersch’s new paintings, showing us colour from “the other side of reality.”
Vermeersch does not lose himself in some metaphysical-tinged zone of colour. On the contrary, the titles of the works refer to the "measurable” world: Untitled (50°54’37” N, 4°24’26” O) 1 and Untitled (50°54’37” N, 4°24’26” O) 2 demystify the sublime-looking paintings they name by indicating the precise origin and location of the photograph used to make them.
In the photos presented here surrounded by their big white “frames,” we can see subtle figurations of finger marks made with paint, heightening the chemical surface of the photograph.
For the artist, this way of fingering paint onto the photo is like a personal way of reading the image. The mixture and the fact of putting paint on with the fingers as a way of fusing painted and photographic colour, is an ongoing, unfinished work process. These photos with their traces of colour can be seen as a metaphor for our “coloured” a priori-reading of reality.
Pieter Vermeersch penetrates the image via his fingerprints, as if in some introspective desire, heightened by the fact of presenting the photograph with a white frame, the better to draw attention to its position and focus the gaze Vermeersch thus colludes with the (chemical) colours of the photograph in order to come as close as he can to colour in general. The symbiosis on the print between the colour of the photo and the chromatic, pictorial approach of the artist’s “finger marks” makes these framed photographs a kind of vade-mecum for Vermeersch’s new series of monumental paintings.
This process places the painting in a new perspective and interpretation in another dimension. Through the photographic medium and the fact of translating the photographic image into negative form, a new and pertinent way of painting is found, one in which colour is not considered as transcendence but rather as the product of a “negative” gaze on concrete reality. The sublime suggestion in these paintings seems to signify no more or less than the interpretation of a simple photograph “of the world.”
The “gradated” wall painting with alternations of white/blue and white/black is given a vanishing point, a point of perceptual transition, in the form of a mirror. The “gradation” visualises the “putting into paint” of time on the wall and immerses the viewer in an “atmospheric” reality which can also be experienced as a mathematical construction.
Cinematographically, by means of a precise pre-established process, this mural paint is mixed and classified and then applied to the walls continuously, like a fluid sequence: like the petrifaction of an artistic act which freezes the irreversibility of time. The mirror redoubles and spatialises the wall painting and paradoxically places the spectator physically within a concrete illusion.
In this ephemeral mural intervention, the viewer is totally given up to the colour which, when the blue arises and then again disappears into the white, evokes atmospheric perspective. In the black variant, a direct connection with photography becomes visible, like the slow “development” of a black-and-white photographic image.
Vermeersch’s gradated tones become supports for the experience of infinite perceptions in which viewers move around within a chromatic cycle of appearance and disappearance, like time, the rhythm of life and of nature.
10, impasse Saint Claude
T. 01 42 16 79 79 — F. 01 42 16 79 74
Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM