Pieter Vermeersch September 2008
Non Space The Image of absence
There are images that become abstract and there are abstractions that become images. Pieter Vermeersch is not an abstract painter as such but rather an image maker; those mental images he finds in reality by photographic means. There is no such thing as pure abstraction.
Everything is connected to some part of reality. The image of different degrees of luminosity or the image of the colour of the rainbow’s prism for instance, they fascinate Pieter Vermeersch by their capacity to represent a recognisable image, both identifiable and abstract, while emphasizing the process of image apparition, this "meta-image" in which time progression and space definition take place.
Painting "non-spaces", dead angles, forgotten spaces from our daily perception (whether it is the Paintings 1999 series, the monumental installation at the MuHKA in 2006, its sequel 10 Untitled paintings of 2007 or the work realized at the Palais des Beaux Arts during the Jeune Peinture 2007 contest exhibition in 2007); it is not about abstract images, autonomous as such, but a representation or a physical projection of an immaterial space related to painting.
The Works in Progress I, II, III series, like a lot of Pieter Vermeersch’ installations, give the impression of a purely abstract work. They are large monochrome surfaces painted on the glass of display windows or a pavilion, with a daily changing tonality and creating inside the space a colour emanation by changing ephemeral essence according to daylight.
In the end the artist’s attention was drawn to this tension between the objectivity of these monochrome, rectangular abstract forms seen from outside and this more subjective and fading interior "light and colour painting".
Out of the Work in Progress I, II, III series various image-paintings were born that were derived from numerous photographs made by Pieter Vermeersch. The union of the abstract with reality gave birth to a child, sublime, androgynous born out of Apollonian and Dionysian reconciliation.
But beware, Pieter Vermeersch is not aiming for the sublime, he revolves around it to better catch it. And we barely let ourselves be seduced and he bounces us back to our reality.
All this is nothing but painting...
Pieter Vermeersch’ canvasses (I am not talking about his installations) are all in a vertical format, as if to remind of the presence in the world of body and being. It is not about abstract "landscape", in which case he would certainly have chosen a horizontal format, more appropriate for landscape. His almost monochrome paintings, often placed directly on the floor are a sort of portrait of the absence, like those brown or black backgrounds, those dark masses surrounding the model in many classical portrait paintings. The mass becomes subject and treads out of the shadow, it has become colour, it progresses and freezes in the pictorial space of the canvas to become one with reality.
Presence of the absent, frozen moment of this process of becoming, of this metamorphosis of painting, perfectly unfinished; we return to this "non-space" which, leading to no identifiable dimension, sends us back to ourselves.
Lilou Vidal, July 2008 / www.pietervermeersch.be
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