Joris Ghekiere - California

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Joris Ghekiere


Untitled, 2010 Oil on canvas, 145 × 115 cm

Untitled, 2010 Oil on canvas, 145 × 115 cm

Joris Ghekiere


De Garage


Pulau Besar (MY), 2008


Sarasota, Florida (US), 2009


Vandenberg Beach, California (US), 2007


21 32


Koen Leemans

THE ILLUSION OF THE POSTMODERN explanation Wim Van Mulders

Playa de Cofete, Fuerteventura (ES), 2010

46 Los Boquetes, La Pared, Fuerteventura (ES), 2010

The uncanny pleasures of plants that are not green

49 Irene Schaudies



Untitled, 1980 Acryl on canvas, 15 × 35 cm

CALIFORNIA The artist Joris Ghekiere (b. 1955, Kortrijk) has been following a self-willed and self-conscious artistic trajectory for years now. About a decade ago I first saw a work by Ghekiere at the group exhibition Speelhoven (Play Gardens). It featured a vaguely painted face of a woman. There were spherical areas, painted in various colours, which cast a painted shadow on the face. The oil paint was covered with a thick layer of reflective resin. It turned out that the work was not painted on canvas, but on a sheet of polyester. At the same exhibtition, the artist presented an installation with poystyrene balls in a walnut tree. Apart from the spherical shapes, I saw no direct link with the painting. Yet the strange, layered image stuck in my mind. It was the reason why I wanted to get acquinted thouroughly with Ghekiere’s work. The layeredness of images, the meaning of which is not obvious right away to the spectator and which even seems to elude us, is the basis of Ghekiere’s art (of painting). The motor of this work is not necessarily found in pompous concepts or statements. In the choice of his motifs, Ghekiere is always very careful and deliberate: plants, hair styles, folk dancers, rampant growths, virusses, landscapes, advertisements, etc. When depicting in paint his particularly personal subject matter, the artist does not seek to represent reality. Though he does preserve the truthfulness of the motif, in a pictorial sense the subverts it. In that sense Ghekiere’s work is in tune with something we remember from a modernist and conceptual history that preceded Ghekiere’s oeuvre: namely that a contemporary painter always takes a stance when painting. A painting is never just a painting—it is also the representation of a view of painting itself. In that sense the difference between figurative and abstract vanish in Ghekiere’s work as well. In both cases the painting is no longer a representation of an image, but the image exists precisely to represent the painting. Or rather, the idea of the painting about the act of painting. Departing from the white surface, Ghekiere achieves an unmistakable pictorial tension in his paintings through the combination of various motifs, different points of view and through a complex and particular process of painting. The same way of proceeding and the same mechanisms we also find in Ghekiere’s threedimensional work, which in its entirity constitutes an obvious part of his artistic practice. With the exhibition California in The Garage and the present catalogue we wish to present the invariably cohererent practice of the artist through a series of recent works. In an all-embracing installation with paintings, monumental murals, a sculpture, photographs and videos, we show that Ghekiere is more than just a painter. The cyclic aspect, the shifts in space and time, in meanings and interpretation, in life and being, are not just a central, linking element at this exhibition, but they provide the public and the reader also with an illuminating view of Ghekiere’s prominent and opulent oeuvre. Koen Leemans February 2011







pp. 12-13: Installation view California, De Garage, Mechelen, from left to right: Untitled, 2010; Untitled, 2010; Site-specific wall painting Untitled, 2011 pp. 14-15: from left to right: site-specific wall painting Untitled, 2011; Site-specific wall painting Untitled, 2011 p. 16: Site-specific wall painting Untitled, 2011 (detail)

Untitled, 2010 Oil on canvas, 115 × 145 cm

THE ILLUSION OF THE POSTMODERN explanation reflections on joris ghekiere Wim Van Mulders

In the Chinese tale the painter disappears into his painting. The painting is his world. His friends, too, can see this painting. The painting remains in the world. Hasn’t the painter left the world after all ? Doesn’t he remain present in the painting for his friends ? And, thus, doesn’t he actually continue to exist ? After all, he still waves at them—from the painting. Rüdiger Safranski 1. In the 1950s, abstract art was proclaimed the language of the world. Geometric and lyrical abstraction were considered a universal interpretation of the world. In fact, this immoderate inclination to overestimation of art in its social function was already present in the work and writings of Piet Mondrian. This artist envisaged a new sort of society, but curiously enough he withdrew from the mechanisms that make society work. Mondrian’s stern art is like the extreme reduction of a tree with branches. To him, it was important that art clarified the balance of things. Though the life of humans is doomed to imbalance, art reveals that life is anchored in an equilibrium. From there, it is only a small step to meditate about universal harmony, cosmic equilibrium and a spiritualized world view. But everything has its time, and bygone times cannot be relived. For there is no time imaginable in which this sort of return is possible. Today, we realize that eternity is inaccessible. It is all-embracing and it therefore comprises an omnipotence that cannot really exist. Nothing in this world returns to its former self—even if there is time to wait. For us, Mondrian’s pathos is still understandable, because of its recklessness, yet it is entirely devoid of credibility. 2. Joris Ghekiere paints a figurative abstraction and/or an abstract figuration. He creates monumental wall paintings, presents geometrical structures in white polystyrene. Like a beachcomber, he walks about desolate sandy places, drawing circles in the sand. He films his village from a spinning canoe, the frame bounded by stricly defining coordinates. With a variety of diverse actions, Ghekiere increasingly seems to create a cocoon around his world. He needn’t be reduced to the third person, an idea suggested by some critics, who project detachment and reticence in his work. Ghekiere intervenes personally and expressly in the existential conditions of various entities that are defined by him in space. In the surroundings in which he places them, these entities acquire a place for themselves, a spacetime and thus space to move. Ghekiere addresses the world outside, the jumble of things out there in the light, and also time. For we only become aware of time in the things that move and hide from sight. By presenting a microcosm and macrocosm that moves because of the vibrations of time, Ghekiere realizes himself, realizes the human being. He focuses on time, there where it is the firmest—absolutely certain that neither the present nor a state of rest exist. This creates an open, dialectic thinking within the media the artist uses—dialectics in this instance thought of as a movement of time. The dialectic movement produces in-depth knowledge and it is a tool of reality itself. The historical dialectics claims to pin down a lively event in progress opting for the antithesis, the contrast, the contradiction. Yet the dialectic process of transformation as such is not a doctrine. If we interpret Ghekiere’s means of expression to be a direct statement, it is possible to view them as a research project—though in this instance we run the risk of lapsing into clichés. Chess combines insight with the ability to overview a whole. A strategy is prerequisite because the number of possibilities is so large that it is almost impossible to see the consequences of every single move. Though as a chess player Ghekiere doesn’t lack the talent to reason logically, he does not present us with images that can be logically explained. There is a compelling movement in these images— there are incessant semantic shifts that result in visible contradictions, which in fact make up the vitality of the work.


3. Ghekiere does not depart from bombastic concepts or statements. Rather, he is a man of understatements. The irony of understatement for that matter becomes this mild-mannered artist. It is said that an understatement sounds less serious and can be considered a funny euphemism. Indeed, there is a certain light-heartedness in the two pillars of this exhibition, namely the somewhat gawkish Prince Carnival and the beautiful folk dancer whose cap is covered with amulets and crosses. On the other hand, the couple seems an alarming and monstrous duo, because they appear namelessly and forlorn within the pictorial space. They are but phases with their own restrictions and limitations. The two images—male and female, frivolous and serious, trivial and urgent, casual and principled—ignore all dogmas. They are two archetypes that serve as a landmark for the viewer, who moves in a world without sharp contours.


4. Both carnival and folk dance incorporate the concept of play. Play is an elementary aspect of life—without it, human culture is unthinkable and unlivable. Writing on “homo ludens”, Huizinga emphasizes that the celebration of a cult comprises an element of play. What is typical about human play, is that it cannot do without celebrations and dancing as a discipline. The to-and-fro of a constantly repeated movement is not linked to a certain goal. The freedom of movement also implies that somehow or other this movement is a sort of automotion. According to Aristotle, automotion is the basis of all living things. Play appears as a sort of automotion that credits “movement as movement” with a surplus. After all, the effort, ambition and serious surrender serve self-representation. The folk dancer does not move about in a random dance, but submits to the traditional rules imposed by a choreography and a uniform. Folk dance is of course embedded in rituals, traditions, masquerades, ceremonies and processions that all timidly accept rules. Folk dance is a magical folkloristic drama for all of us, and in that sense it becomes a communicative event in which the dancer and the spectator are not separated by a distance. It seems strange that Ghekiere chooses to paint folk dancers, because originally folk dancers had little professional training and the dancers danced to particularly traditional music. It is a ritual without any sense of innovation and refers to a time in which there was a divide between “the dances of common folk” and “the dances of high society”. A similar dimension appears in the staging of Prince Carnival. In the Roman Catholic context carnival is a factor that removes all restraints, just before the fast of Lent starts. It involves a festive dinner—people can cram themselves as they like, just before the fast. Yet at an anthropological level carnival seems an interesting metaphor, as it is a ritual of inversion, in which the social roles are reversed and the code of conduct is suspended. Prince Carnival is not merely a sheepish jester : on the first day of carnival, the mayor symbolically hands over the key of the city to the Prince. For three days, Prince Carnival will wield power over the city and the merry commoners, who are dressed in a fool’s cap. The merry-making individual is brazen and blasphemous. He or she illustrates the latent moral chaos of mediocre life. Anthropologists believe that freedom actually causes a tension few people can cope with. People are expected to be content with submitting to a regime of discipline, which on a psychological level functions as a reassuring routine. The two protagonists reveal the power and unequal relations that force us to live to a variety of lifestyles. 5. In the character of Prince Carnival and the dancer there is presumably an element of submission and deceit. Deceit can only mean something if there is a willingness to be deceived. The jester is still innocent—there is a sort of fake naivety in his

1. Untitled, 2008. Oil on canvas, 115 × 145 cm


character for those who are willing to be made a fool of. It is no coincidence that the essence of carnival is an aggressive laughter, or rather ridicule—being laughed at—as the ferment of the satirical tradition. In a highly developed civilization, television—a fool’s mirror—has somehow turned into a carnival, as it has become the medium of ridicule par excellence. Modern-style numbing conservatism survives in primitive journalism by pretending that every day there can be a new sensational news item. Ghekiere confronts us with the fact that world events are a juxtaposition of a wide variety of indifferent things. The indifference does not result from the subjects discussed, but from the fact that they are part of a stream of information. In his cultivated sophistication, the artist is a credible information official and educator. The ideas and values, expressed in his work are at the service of humanity. Through Prince Carnival and the folk dancer the artist alludes to the decline of values and the plunge into the human, all too human, which often hides obscurantism. Without formulating a real complaint—art functions in a more subtle manner—Ghekiere moves on the thin line that separates clarity and dark, concern and intellectual elasticity. He suggests that we pass too quickly over the millions of reports and tragedies we are aware of. What the artist does, is simply confronting us with a complex image of things that may point to a shared responsibility. He refers to the car bomb as a symbol of the humiliations and frustrations for which no solution is available. Living together peacefully is irrational : it cannot be underpinned with reason. These works function as a subtle statement about people who are subjected to a set of written and unwritten rules within the system of the free market. The French philosopher Simone Weil, who died young, claimed that there is always a sense of infinity in desire. Aggression and rivalry between people can therefore only be overcome if we all limit our desires. Limited desires are in harmony with the world, desires that encompass boundlessness are not. Our identity is not endlessly variable. Therefore the definition, the autodefinition, of the artistic identity can only be a quest for the self, for what this self is, i.e. it is nothing but the road to discovery. Ghekiere is aware of the simultaneity of everything in our informed consciousness. To stem this stream of information, he develops a strategy in which not the totality is essential, but rather the episode. It is possible to refer to series or episodes—hairstyles, plants, jewels, dancers, landscapes, geometrical structures— in which the hunger for experiences is present. Yet in the choices make we will discover a method that declines to take everything into consideration. Mondrian’s pathos disappears in favour of that which we have tasted ourselves, that which we have seen with our own eyes.



6. Ghekiere incorporates the paradigms of modernism. He undermines the pathetic ambitions we associate with them. Instead, he analyses the optical phenomena of closeness and distance, of sharp and blurred, large and small, dark and light, colour and near monochromism. The landscape is based on photographs. In processing them, he comes very close to an atmospheric schematicism because of the direct and manual manipulation. He sprays fine layers of paint, wipes them and uses the brush for soft pictorial accents. Landscape, photograph, painting—these three stages crystallize into a dialectic process. Ghekiere presents and represents something that cannot be observed without the medium of this representation. He concludes that pure abstraction does not free us from the problem of contents. He searches for the catastrophic reality that is hidden underneath the surface of everyday life. 7. When comparing the arts of painting and photography, the eternal cliché is that painting became abstract because photography was able to depict reality better and more adequately than painting. What underlies this idea, is the assumption that


2. Untitled, 2007. Oil on canvas, 160 × 200 cm 3. Untitled, 2008. Oil on canvas, 160 × 200 cm

the photographic representation seeks a strong position within a commercialized and instrumentalist society. If commercialization is rejected, it would appear that mainly abstract painting can be accused of escapism. A medium is open to all sorts of contents, but at the same time it is also delimited because it operates within its own limits. From this point of view, photography and painting are considered antipodes. If we describe a process by photographing a plant, we create models. Like in science, these presuppose a constant revision and optimization. In the plant from 2004 a thistle hangs in a space without any context. In the seven plants from 2010 a detailed realism grows, which is combined with an atmospheric depth. This is not the depiction of a once-only phenomenon. The painting as symbol of a plant condenses all its properties ; it is a distillate of which only the smell and colour remind us of object from which it was derived. As a technological replica of the eye, the camera allows us to acquire knowledge of phenomena through the brain. A photograph of a plant is part of our reality, because thanks to the photograph we are able to see the plant better. The photograph makes it possible to study the plant and divide plants in categories. A painting of a plant necessitates a material process and almost automatically acquires a rhetorical character. In the construction on the canvas, the urgency of the photograph is turned into a free shape that contains the potential to change. In the best of circumstances, representation excludes all types of hierarchy. In its organisation the painting reminds us of a nature that is devoid of romantic projections. In 1989 Richter wrote : “Everything you can think of—the feeblemindedness, the stupid ideas, the gimcrack constructions and speculations—the things you can’t help seeing a million times over, day in and day out ; the impoverishment and the cocksure ineptitude—I paint all that away, out of myself, out of my head, when I first start on a picture. That is my foundation, my ground. I get rid of that in the first few layers, which I destroy, layer by layer, until all the facile feeblemindedness has gone.” This sheds a light on a period of intense labour, when through the intoxication of concentration Ghekiere managed to free himself of the obtrusiveness of trivial facts. The part played by intoxication in the arts is well-known since Baudelaire’s assertion that we must live in a continuous state of inebriety. That idea resulted in Lautréamont’s frivolous reasoning that god was drunk when he created the world. “He was plastered ! Sloshed ! As pissed as a bedbug that has guzzled down three tons of blood in one night !” In the intoxication of concentration Ghekiere prefers the glitter of boundlessness to that which limits him. Working is a colossal event, a titanic act, the intensity and tension of which overshadow all that befalls in daily reality. 8. In the circles of sand, in the paintings and in the film about the canoe, rotation predominates. The oeuvre is not limited to for example the description of a plant. The artist slowly looks for expansion and for the development of themes that used to remain untouched. The sophisticated hairstyle of the folk dancer is already implied in the countless hairstyles from 2005. Ghekiere’s dialectic strategy comprises a constantly changing perspective of phenomena, which results in a view of reality that appears now incoherent, now a coherent whole. In this resides the motor of the work. Ghekiere proves that a change of perspective is not only possible, but also necessary. Time and again he changes the point of view, exposing and downgrading the insights that had been acquired. He steers our glance towards the tent camps in Patras and towards the kitschy tents of the “global village” event of Art Basel—an expensive art reserve. The artist does not justify this contrast through a radical cynicism, but by the discovery that what we view is defined by an infrastructural network. The tension grows between that which can be seen and that which remains unseen, that which always escapes our glance. The “detachedness” that is often referred to in the context of this work, can be interpreted as the problem that we are never neutral spectators—we are always entangled in the events and


situations we are submerged in. We become part of that which we observe. Thus, the film with the canoe is a slow, extensive camera movement on a rotating canoe. It is therefore logical that we read the movement as circular. The canoe rotates around a fixed point and in this absolute locus the canoeist develops an all-seeing, comprehensive glance. The watchful, piercing eye of the camera—Dan Graham’s rotating exercises with a double camera turn up as a reference—explores the surroundings. In The Garage the recorded images are projected in a circle, using two different speeds, which results in the illusion of an all-embracing view. 9. The panoramic paintings of Patras and Basel confront us with the consequences of a rampant neoliberalism that makes some people rich, while at the same time it makes other people poor. For those who look further than their noses : we notice a crude equality in which the equals sign between the variables is improperly used. The images function within the media spectacle, because they do not really reveal the underlying mechanisms. The works provide an obligatory view of “how bad things are” and that is well-oiled phrase used by opinion makers. Thus we arrive in the murky waters of ideology. Ideology is what remains unspoken in a certain political system, though it underlies everything that happens. When Katrina raged over New Orleans, a storm of violence followed in its wake. As if the tornado hadn’t been enough, the poor southerners had to deal with looters, rapists and murderers. The populist media attributed the wanton violence to the thin layer of decency that covers human (and especially black) culture. But as Slavoj Žižek stated, the looters followed the laws of capitalism, which say that individuals have to fend for themselves in a ruthless manner. After all, blacks are for white Americans the same sort of degenerated beings like the Jews were for the Germans in the period between the two world wars. Today, millions of people die because of the consequences of the capitalist globalization and on the other hand, the elite goes to look at itself in Basel. Neoliberalism with its serious overproduction and infantile consumerism requires a mobilising panoramic evaluation. At the end of the day, it seems impossible to have “capitalism without capitalism”. The state of the world should be fought as if it were an infection. Because we are threatened as a community, the role of the artist lies in the evocation of broadening image spaces that function as a channel underneath the channels. 10. A structure is always an architectural structure, like the one Daedalus built on Crete. For The Garage Ghekiere has built a structure or grid of polystyrene bars that are glued together with the intention to use it to interpret the centre and periphery of complex systems. The term “complexity” is derived from Latin and can mean “embrace”, “encompassment”, “connection”, “entwinement”. Its origin refers to a multitude that was originally considered as a coherent whole. Ghekiere is particularly fond of things that continue to develop, that relate everything to everything, but which also become something irregular and as such aimless. Complexity refers to an intricate shape of relations and a particular entanglement of relational patterns. Complexity is not the equivalent of large-scale or rigid centralisation. Complex systems are characterized by strongly developed feedback channels, they create models and learn from experience. The polystyrene structure is like an adaptive system that is very flexible in changing circumstances. A similar metal structure fills a large courtyard in the Hospital of Our Lady (O.L.Vrouwziekenhuis) in Aalst. In this context it is as if the structure is a model for the fast changes and innovations of our medical knowledge. Knowing also means creating and thus world views create new layers of reality—without implying for that matter that a global plan has been elaborated. In our high-tech society, which is both fragmented and dynamic, this construction is a reconstruction of an



4. Untitled, 2009. Inox. Site-specific installation Hospital of Our Lady, Aalst (BE), 17 × 12 × 3,5 m

independent, improvised activity. As an individual, Ghekiere constantly creates an image of humankind, nature and society for himself, so as to be able to situate himself there. The structure comprises human possibilities, escape routes, paths, perspectives and ambiguities. Concepts and sensation entangle, without freezing into a merely horizontal or vertical coordinate system. The structure moves above, next to, under, behind, before, after and in reality. In his own way, Ghekiere confronts us with a world that grows exponentially more complex in its linking of that which presents itself and that which is available. There is no beginning or end in this jumble and therefore the artist neglects the linking channel between the transmitter and receiver of the traditional medium. 11. Ghekiere reads Nietzsche. He points to the fact that the philosopher liked to dance. If you want to move, you have to move. Like the sun, you like to move in circles— for the sun rises, it celebrates its “high noon” and sets in an infinite ritual of return. Perhaps folk dance is the channelled, practical Nietzsche. Zarathustra’s wisdom moves like a dance on the stage of life ; like him the eagle dances in the air without forgetting the earth beneath or without becoming unfaithful to it. People, too, shift continuously in everything they touch. Dance is an art form that was very dear to Mondrian. But when the model of the “new plasticity” is followed, he remarks : “In the new art dance will go the same way as gesture and mime. Dance will fade from art into life. We will no longer look at dancing, because we will realize the rhythm itself.” In Human, All too Human Nietzsche writes on a nature that towers above the “all too human” through its heroic, exceptional qualities. Where we think to observe ideals, the philosopher sees what is human—alas, all too human. The unmasking and the dethroning of the seemingly eternal and supernatural ideals in favour of typically human preoccupations, materialize in living nature. In this nature, things move around in concentric, organised spheres. In astronomy the observer is aware of the fact that his or her position to a large extent defines the scene of the fascinating star-spangled sky. As an observer, Ghekiere stands on the surface of a planet that rotates around its axis and circles around the sun. Yet the suspicion slowly arises that a world depicted in royal vistas and the circular panopticons that are derived from them remain problematic and provisional. 12. Dante geometrically charted the inferno by imprisoning the excommunicated in circles of hell. What matters here, is that through the circle Dante guarantees the security within god, but he also confronts the reader with the circularity of a recurring hopelessness. Dante’s underworld is midway between a sunny order and extreme horror. In Kali, Peter Handke renders his interpretation of hell in our time : “Still night. Night now, deep night, deep as never before. (...) Yes, it is hell. And very different one for that matter than in the presentation. Very different also than tradition presents it. A hell without devil. A hell without flames. A hell without echo or delusions, a hell that cannot be captured in words. A melodious hell, a humming hell. A hell with a ten billion different signature tunes. A hell of all sorts of devices, keyboards and systems.” The images of the circle of sand are full of meaning—they are warm with meaning and fiery, very fiery. Ghekiere leaves behind a simple sign in the sand, a simple consideration, “I was here.” The circles can be found in almost the entire world and leave behind an absent trace, as the signs disappear quickly compared with Richard Long’s stone circles. Long knows : “A circle is beautiful, powerful, but also neutral and abstract. I realized it could serve as a constant form, always with new content. A circle could carry a different walking idea, or be in different place, each time. A circle suits the anonymous but manmade character of my work. A circle is more contemplative, focused, like a stopping place.”



Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 160 × 200 cm


Anish Kapoors monumental sculpture My Red Homeland (2003) consists of 25 tons of red petroleum jelly in which a heavy metal rod rotates. In one hour the rotating rod kneads the heavy mass into a circle. Matter, mass, colour and space unfold in time. Kapoor emphasizes the analogy with the pallet knife with which the painter models matter. “The key question here is just how much force the individual can be expected to accept, in terms of the volume of material, without the sheer vastness of it causing the emotional attraction between subject and object to give to ironic detachment. Accordingly, the mass of My Red Homeland resembles a lump of flesh or paint hurled into the room by some gigantic hand, rather than an aesthetic formal construct controlled right from the start,” writes Eckhard Schneider. Kapoor’s My Red Homeland is about the feeling that the ground disappears under one’s feet. “I have always felt drawn towards some notion of fear in a very visual way, towards sensation of falling, of being pulled inwards, of losing one’s sense of self. Spend time with any work and before long you will feel an unmistakable shift in the coordinates of space and time you take for granted.” Ghekiere’s circle has little to do with Land Art (a label Long doesn’t accept), which mainly refers to the megalomaniac projects by Dennis Oppenheim, Michael Heizer and Walter De Maria. Ghekiere’s circle is the product of the beachcomber/ DIY enthusiast who appropriates driftwood. He realizes the work in the intimacy of a silent presence on a lonely spot. In the sand circle, proportions are thought of as dynamic, because once the circle was the triumph of divine formalism. The artist knows how important photographic reproducibility is and photographs only the sand circle when it has just been made—he does not record its erasure by the elements. The huge blow-up in The Garage gives the viewer an idea of the place and its realization ; as a document it refers to its exotic dimension. It is like a survival signal left behind by Robinson Crusoe, a signal that reflects the fact that nature is stronger than humans. 13. Nicolaus Cusanus wrote : “Theology in its entirety is comprised in a circle.” A lot of world views depart from an imperative circularity of the whole. It appears that the rotating ruler or branch reveal the boundary of heaven and earth. Rotating a ruler in the sand is the equivalent of Jasper John’s use of the ruler in his series Device (1961–1964). In order to render the pictorial writing more autonomous, Johns rotates a ruler in a liquid. Thus, by thoroughly treating surfaces, the artist creates semicircles and whole circles that impart rest and evoke the clock as an instrument to measure time. Furthermore, they define the end result. Johns demonstrates how the use of a squeegee tones down an expressionist setting : “The circle had no references outside of the actions which were made. The pictures then became less intellectual as the viewer could respond more directly to the physical situation. (…) The circle blurs and confuses the surface in the act of clarifying and ordering it, simultaneously evoking an absent, past act.” Ghekiere’s circles are physical metaphors for the futility of human efforts, because they rotate without ever reaching a well-defined destination. 14. Nietzsche provided a clue regarding that which liberates the free mind, because “everything has become ; there are no eternal things, like there are no eternal truths.” It is important to teach people to appreciate simple, earthly things : “One should be as close to the flowers, grass and butterflies like a child that does not yet rise high above them.” Ghekiere’s plants evoke the classification of plants devised by the Swedish physician and botanist Carl Linnaeus. The most startling aspect of Linnaeus’s classification was the fact that it was based on characteristics of the reproductive organs. That was all the more startling, as in the early eighteenth century the subject of sexuality was an absolute taboo. Linnaeus was therefore nicknamed “the botanical pornographer”. His system would inspire Goethe, and later Paul Klee and Joseph





5. Anish Kapoor, My Red Homeland, 2003 6. Jasper Johns, Device, 1961–1964 7. Herman Henstenburg (1667–1726), Tulips


Beuys. The mechanical image of nature finds an equivalent in more dynamic views of Klee’s “endless natural history”, a collection of his lessons at the Bauhaus. For Klee, on the one hand nature is a huge field of forces that develops according to well-defined evolutionary and growing patterns. On the other hand, the artist can bend these rules to his advantage thanks to the “form will”. In Ghekiere’s work, plants exists as characters with their own structure, texture and expressive power. The plant is rooted, rises vertically from the ground, branches out from its central stem or trunk. Mondrian’s tree with branches appears as a sober, self-controlled reference. The plants with their rigid verticality are placed against a hazy background. They seem to allude to Manet’s portraits. Le Fifre (1866) is placed in an undefined space, which is almost entirely flat because of the fine modulation of shades of grey. The young musician dressed in red trousers—modest, impressive and painted entirely “à-plat”—is commented on : “Il est appliqué sur un fond gris monochrome : pas de terrain, pas d’air, pas de perspective : l’infortuné est collé contre un mur chimérique.” Ghekiere’s plants share with Manet a modest motif and “une jubilation de la touche et de la couleur”. Ghekiere refers to Velàzquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X, because the loose brush stroke in the costume has similarities with his own technique of glazing. In Goethe’s works, natures is essentially dynamic and creative. The aim of nature is abundant production ; economy of means is unknown to nature. In Ghekiere’s plants, too, there is abundance, growth and expansion. Looking at the details of a plant confronts the viewer with a struggling, hard nature. The plants with their dark and mysterious colours—with their pink, green, blue and purple shades, they are like night plants—render a dynamic-creative view of nature, though we do not know which direction evolution is heading. There is an obscure multitude of forces at work, which effect a provisional equilibrium that lasts from moment to moment. 15. Ghekiere has referred to the efforts of art critics to grasp his oeuvre as a whole. Such an attempt is doomed to fail, because a poetical evocation is more in tune with the nature of the work. Inge Henneman has cautiously elucidated the painting process : “Joris Ghekiere’s artistic practice is an experimental event that starts with the longing for and the empirical study of a specific ‘image quality”, an autonomous, visual sensation. (...) The image is regenerated by following a certain system. Principles of repetition, fragmentation of positive/negative inversions create a certain endlessness and complexity. (...) The painting is an impossible paradox, the reconciliation of the most individual—the inner state of mind—and the most impersonal—the material and rhetorical system of the art of painting.” 16. Between the microworld of weeds and the perspectival panoramic glance two parallels come into being. Whether the painter observes things from close by or from a distance, he or she sees things from his or her own perspective. Perhaps Ghekiere asks the question whether it is possible to make out how reality actually is ? The artist formulates his answer in, amongst other things, his way of painting. “That which people feel to be the background, the hazy, often concentric “dégradés”, is actually the foreground—the last layer of paint applied. I apply a first layer of paint, and then I spray this layer with a dégradé. I create the image by removing parts of the last layer, when it is still wet, with a rubber squeegee. (...) The concentric dégradés result in a sort of blindness that really fascinates me. You can’t focus on them. It’s an optical illusion that can’t be pinned down. You don’t know what you see. (...) I think I try to take the viewer with me into an image. Is that exiting ? Look into a black hole, for that matter... That’s what interests me : this thin ice, the uncertainty, the moment things start to tilt. I’m fascinated by what Nietzsche calls an excess of beauty, something that can become unbearable any moment.” The chain of signs constantly jumps from one element to another and fans into all directions.

8. Edouard Manet, Le Fifre (The Fifer), 1866


17. The panorama and the small plant represent two sides of the same problem. The plant represents a unity in diversity, while the panorama expands and the different, juxtaposed perspectives evoke the idea of the private and the public, the fictional and the actual. The sumptuous tents of Art Basel—a caricature of the contemporary business spirit that even trades in spiritual things—and the refugee tent camp are paradoxical images of the injustice of time. Culture as a space intermediate between private and public is disappearing. Little is left of the idyllic image of the world as an open space, a space of encounter, debate, detachment and respect. In his merry-go-rounds, Bruce Nauman hangs aluminium animals from a rotating mast that is mechanically fed. The animals graze the ground, drawing a circle. The merry-go-rounds articulate the periphery—not the centre. The freedom of movement of the viewer is interfered with—he or she can never move to the centre. For the viewer, the merry-go-round is simply a machine that dominates the situation. How credible Hölderlin sounds when he writes : “Full of merit, yet poetically, humans inhabit this earth.” Nauman pushes humans into the shadows of the periphery and places them with their back against the wall. The multicultural has broken open the evidence of the common national identity. In The Fall of Public Man, Richard Sennet describes how the public space was a “theatrum mundi”, where everyone played a part. This has been replaced by a narcissistic stage, where the individual no longer plays a public role, but only “himself” or “herself”. Instead of referring to mere decline, it makes more sense to talk about space for conflict, space to breathe, space to love and space to play. Thus the space to breathe refers to the possibility to create an social network of encounters from an artistic point of view, and the space to play involves the potential for creativity and freedom of action. 18. Guy Debord’s society of the spectacle comes threateningly close. According to Debord, after World War II, the consumer was overwhelmed by a torrent of impressions and images, with the aim to impose a passive role on him or her in the system of consumerism. The development of social and economical relations has created a society of abundance that is spectacular both with regard to contents and form. Culture merely consists of ephemeral images that serve to play to the gallery. As Debord puts it : “The spectacle is capital that has been accumulated until it has turned into an image.” The spectacle blurs reality ; it is a system that creates an illusory world because the relations are conveyed by images. In the end, the society of the spectacle is a representation that isolates humans and separates them for their true needs. The hidden agenda of the spectacle results directly in a total social control of the imagination in the media. 19. Through his resolute pictorial research, Ghekiere endorses the creed of the fictional/concrete space that is inherent to the art of painting. Thus the lost aura of the photograph makes an impressive comeback. By painting, he intensifies the reality effect of the photographs. This creates a fascinating friction between the painting as reality and the reality as painting. Ghekiere’s reality acquires meaning through the knowledge that he prefers to stand on the top of the mountain rather than dwell in the valley, or that he prefers to wander in the desert than in a forest, where it is impossible to see things or have an overview. Through this global perspective, art has a socializing effect and it is not made for a public, but it creates a public. Ghekiere asks a general question : what do people do in a complex system ? From the “freespace” mentioned earlier they seek to relate to the small and the large. There, they discover the possibility to act, which however, presupposes doubt about a world that can be moulded to one’s desire. It is a matter of living and continuing to live. Everything moves thanks to people : there is something they chan-


9. Bruce Nauman, Carousel, 1986


nel through. Play provides the opportunity to break open the framework, which enables us to play a different game. Ghekiere is aware that his activities are linked to a culture. Thus he states that advertising photographs stimulate vanity. The hairstyles use the strategy of sophism : through a manipulative language that is characterized by outstanding grammatical, rhetorical and dialectic qualities, an attempt is undertaken to convince people, to make them change their mind. Advertisements tell us what is good for us. Publicity and vanity culminate in a staged eroticism. Pinned-up or loose long hair reflects the degrees of seduction. The women with the ingenious hairstyles look at their hard shadow. They are caught in a fossilized madness. This image derives its contents from the naked fact that it is better to keep silent about humans and the world. Desperation and entrancement meet in a brutal casualness. Like Kracauer says, these are “docupoetical” images. 20. Ghekiere presents a view of the world and of humankind. That is a precarious undertaking. In De civitate Dei, Augustine relates the history of humankind, starting with the creation and god’s plan throughout time. The time of the Renaissance inaugurates the history of Enlightenment, with its emphasis on the emancipation of reason and humanization—but paradoxically it also inaugurates the mechanization of the world view. Then, there is the Marxist world view, which centres on the history of labour and seeks to achieve the emancipation of the working class. These are the three “grand narratives” we have known : god’s plan, the plan of reason, the history of labour. All three have collapsed now. Then there are countless subsidiary narratives, such as the history of psychoanalysis, feminism, human rights, the increase of the population, migration, the unbridled overuse of nature, urbanization, etc. 21. The principle of boundlessness is reflected in the polystyrene structures. The constructions are not perfect geometric structures, yet they monopolize our glance. On the horizon loom both Valery’s constructions of a multidimensional universe full of aphorisms, and Borges’ metanarratives in which the library changes into a place where boundaries are crossed. In The Aleph, Borges writes : “In that single gigantic instant I saw millions of acts both delightful and awful. What appalled me most, was that they all happened in the same point in space, without overlapping or transparency.” The increasingly broad glance of this writer is in tune with Ghekiere’s love of the intimate and the panorama. At the end of the eighteenth century, the French revolution appears, but also the first hot air balloon and the British patent on the panorama. What these have in common, is the concept of overview. The revolution gives birth to the first citizen, the balloonist breaks away from the earth and views the land and the sea like a cartographer does ; the painter of panorama’s is in the middle of everything and paints an all-embracing view. Benjamin considered the panorama and the spectacle that accompanied it as a metaphor for the developing citizinry and the early democracy. Ghekiere’s panoramic view—he prefers the mountain to the valley, the desert to the forest—comprises an urge to do away with boundaries. Within the painting something is captured of everything that happens in its margin. In the panoramas we lose our fixed perspective and we slip “into” the canvas. The panoramic is omnivorous and comes closes to Nietzsche’s claim that he completely controls the language of his experiences. He does not want to hide behind the authority of a subject ; he seeks to disorganize the duty of the species. The basic principle is : every experience, viewed in its origin, presupposes the entire past and the vastness of the world. One experiences more in one day than in an entire life.



Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 160 × 200 cm


22. The fact that Ghekiere has opted for photographs he has made himself, such as the photographs of plants, hairstyles and folk dances, shows us how the artist travels through his time. He has no cold feet when it comes to the most sophisticated and post populist of mediums. On the contrary, he considers photography, combined with his personal pictorial work as constituting a bridge. The influence of photography on painting started with Eugène Delacroix, who was a radical advocate of the new technique. Within the visual arts, Delacroix considered photography as the “criterion for truthfulness”. “If an exceptional man uses the daguerreotype as it should be used, he reaches a degree of superiority that is unprecedented,” he writes in his journal. For Delacroix, photographs are just like drawings and engravings : documents one cannot do without. René Magritte, too, makes extensive use of photographs for portraits and other compositions, because in his view, they are direct, correct and natural. Magritte loved to photograph absurd situations, because it quickly and efficiently satisfied his hunger for visual knowledge, but also because he was looking for something that was somehow alarming. Though he understood that the stereometric view of the eye is incompatible with the frame photography imposes, he accepted the alluring artificiality of the photograph. Photographing things oneself results in a different dimension than the anonymous photographs of image producers—even if it were only because of the aspect of strict privacy. The images invite endless manipulation. The free play of manipulating photographs involves a denial of written rules and results in images of which the origin and meaning can hardly be traced. In the itching powers of imagination meanings are generated which, in the best case, invite understanding, or as Kant puts it, allow us “to add endlessly much more.” 23. Like Magritte, Gerhard Richter points to the heavy demands of the academic “drawing from nature” which compels the artist to pay attention to proportions, perspective, accuracy, abstraction and distortion. It requires a long study and the process of realizing a drawing is hard. The use of photography frees Richter—I am referring to the figurative black and white paintings from the 1960s—from a search for colour, composition and space. According to Richter, in the nineteenth century photography changed our way of seeing and thinking. Photography was considered as truthful and right, whereas painting became untrustworthy because the representation is an artificial and uncontrollable constructions that is realized only slowly. From its status of perfection in the nineteenth century to its ambiguous position with regard to reality in the twentieth century, photography has been a source of inspiration and confrontation. “Photographic images of the world around us are felt to be truer than true. Against better judgement. For though hardly anyone nowadays believes in the “reality effects” of documentaries of photographs, everyone is expected to behave as if this “reality effect” is real indeed. Thus, image, observation, language and consciousness constantly affirm each other,” Ine Gevers relates. Photography and language magnify the window on the world, but at the same time they imprison us—the window on the world is also a huge prison. According to Susan Sontag, photography “has created a chronically voyeuristic relationship between people and the world, a relationship in which the meaning of events are all considered equal. (...) The urge to take photographs is essentially nonselective—in the practice of photography it is thought that everything can be made equally interesting by the camera.” The ominous character of her message from 1973 has eroded in the course of time and has been replaced by a bold embrace of the medium. But the question with regard to the choice of a motive remains prevalent in Ghekiere’s work. What happened just before the painting and what happened right after ? What does the painting reveal and what does it hide ? What do these plants, folk dancers and landscapes mean ? The plants are clearly framed, but where are the coordinates ? They


reveal a strange fragility. The plants are actually small. In the painting they become monumental and their tenderness requires to be read from very close by or and from far off. Looking at Bacon, Warhol, Tuymans, Sasnal and Doig we notice different interpretations of the power and powerlessness, truth and falsehood of the photographic image. Ghekiere uses photography to appropriate the image and to create a distance between himself and the motif chosen. He retains the exterior of the motif, but from a pictorial point of view he undermines it. The photograph is not for reproduction. It provides information on which we can build. The photograph dissolves in the painting. Images only resound if the figuration is rendered unstable. 24. For the time being, Ghekiere’s oeuvre remains an unfinished project. Creative people are like the Athenian architect Daedalus—the famous architect who offered his services to Minos, king of Crete. Daedalus made a name for himself by building the famous labyrinth. How labyrinthian is Ghekiere’s oeuvre ? When after some time, Daedalus expresses his desire to leave the island, Minos refuses to let him go— technical expertise consolidates the position of the ruler. The end of the story is familiar. Daedalus and his son Icarus flee. With his wings of feathers and wax, using up-currants, Icarus flows higher and higher, towards the sun. The wax melts and the wings disintegrate. Icarus falls down in the sea. Daedalus is the archetypical scientist and artist. He is not just intelligent and creative, but above all, he is restless and keeps moving, which sets him apart from his inert surroundings. Icarus is a pleasure lover who uses his wings as a toy. In this, he displays a natural vulnerability. Ghekiere is a symbiosis of Daedalus and Icarus, because the myth and the oeuvre enthusiastically increase the capacity for play. It is this vitality that makes us think.






pp. 40-41: Installation view California, De Garage, Mechelen, foreground, from left to right: Site-specific installation, 2011 (polystyrene); Site-specific wall print, 2011 (Playa de Rey, La Pared, Fuertaventura (ES), 2010) pp. 42-43: Video stills from site-specific video installation, 2011. Sound by Nils Van der Plancken p. 44: Site-specific wall painting Untitled, 2011 (detail)

The uncanny pleasures of plants that are not green Irene Schaudies


Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 115 × 200 cm

They are dark, they are brooding; they are rectangular and figurative, neither meek nor edible.1 At first glance they might seem like specimens, sprawling from unseen pins. Indeed the specimen-like aspect of Joris Ghekiere’s most recent ‘Plants’—like most of the artist’s work, the canvases are untitled, either individually or serially—would seem to beg inclusion in some hegemonic discourse of discovery and domination, collecting and naming, were it not for their intransigently mobile, weirdly autonomous qualities. In spite of its evident botanical focus, Ghekiere’s latest work has little to do with what Donald Kuspit has referred to as the ‘New Naturalism’ in a recent review of work by New York artists Mia Brownell and Derrick Guild.2 Nor does it pursue the strange vistas of Neil Jenney’s ‘Good Paintings’, nor again the perver­ sely pleasurable hybrids of Walton Ford’s Pancha Tantra. Other than the fact that the ostensible subjects are plants, there’s nothing natural about them. Enter a space filled with Ghekiere’s recent work and you enter what seems to be a somber portrait gallery of the non-human: glowering, vegetative entities aligned in stately progression along the walls. You might almost fancy yourself an intrepid Lovecraftian hero who has been wrenched out of space, out of time to confront a council of alien beings in a topologically complex corner of some parallel universe where, in true Lovecraftian fashion, you discover in the recesses of your own psyche—or, better yet, your own body—resources previously unsuspected but too alien, too abominable to bring out into the light.3 In fact we might even begin by asking ‘why plants?’—why plants, as distinct from dead dogs, household utensils, car wrecks, CAM portraits, Tyrolean kitsch or flagrant abstractions, to name but a few of the ‘objects’ that recur in Ghekiere’s hyper-specific painted oeuvre? In a certain sense—confirmed by the artist himself—they represent Nature, not as the forlorn half of some tired dichotomy (art-nature, nature-culture, nature-technology), but in the sense of being ‘futile’ because not insistent in any overt way, like imagery borrowed from advertising or the Internet. Natural objects in Ghekiere’s work tend to function as an index of completeness because they already contain everything in themselves, represent a kind of found perfection. As such they constitute a movement away from the need to explain, to find a narrative or discursive content in his paintings—qualities that were very strong in his quasi-voyeuristic CAM portraits, for example, or wrecked cars, with their echoes of Warhol’s groundbreaking freeze-frame tragedies.

The plants themselves were chosen at random— selected from botanical gardens or plucked from obliging berms—there was no intention of cataloguing or naming, no effort at forming a complete collection of ordered specimens. At least in initially, however, they are painted in a way the artist describes as ‘correct’ or ‘neutral’, by which he means that their manner of execution is more clearly informed by the traditions of botanical illustration, and their visual interest and expressiveness arises from the form of the plants themselves rather than any excess of artistic brio. The first term in the series is the most traditional of the group, painted in a rather academic way that almost approaches illustration but not quite, since it is too freely rendered in colors too unnatural to lend themselves to any signaling of scientific description. Of all its siblings it is framed most like a close-up—like a still life, even—is softest in focus and execution, darkest in tonality. It is in many ways the most ‘anthropomorphic’ canvas in the series, the one most conditioned by the relationship of plants to human beings, the most likely to be mistaken for a common houseplant—albeit a lugubrious one. It is painted on a dark ground in murky tones, and in terms of Ghekiere’s characteristic layering of contrasting colors, there is not much chromatic spread to speak of: the layers are close enough in hue and shade to produce an almost anodyne effect. Background flecks and drips are sedate and kept to a minimum. The paint is, illustratively, in the service of the object depicted. Gradually, however, the act of painting begins to take on a life of its own, becoming a pictorial activity or focus in and of itself in successive works in the series. I say successive, but with the possible exception of the first three terms in the series, chronology is not that important because each new term in the series borrows multiply from previous editions, sharpening some aspects, effacing others, branching out on its own. 1. Like, but also unlike Sylvia Plath’s mushrooms: ‘We are shelves, we are / Tables, we are meek, / We are edible’; yet their ‘soft fists,’ ‘hammers’ and ‘rams’ burst even through paving, take over the earth; see Sylvia Plath: The Collected Poems (New York, 1981), p. 139. 2. Donald Kuspit, ‘The New Naturalism,’ artnet Magazine,, 11-22-10. 3. H.P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffman Price, ‘Through the Gates of the Silver Key,’ in The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, ed. S.T. Joshi (London, 2005), pp. 264-99, is a fine example, though certainly not the only one.



Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 115 × 200 cm

The second canvas launches itself on a more expressionistic trajectory than its comparatively decorative predecessor. The contrast between figure and ground—always deceptive in Ghekiere’s oeuvre—has been stepped up a notch. A dark ground has been overlaid with a middle shade of raspberry that in turn melts behind a panoply of leaves painted with what might justly be called an excess of artistic brio. Brushstrokes define themselves flagrantly as entire leaves or highlights on a stem in shades of turquoise, green and cream that jar against the mauves of the background. Pale drips launch themselves impetuously downward, a direction suggestive of gravity, but not always from a logical support: a stem here, an undefined cloud of pigment there. Pigment begins to pool in the background like stains or clouds; random brushstrokes assert themselves like reflections or ghostly effervescence from some notional swamp or peat bog. The berries borne by laden stems amid these quivering leaves gain fields of halation by being scraped out of the middle ground and softly highlighted. A conflict seems to arise—or better, a field of tension is generated—between the plants themselves and the painting of them that uncovers all the discomfort inherent in trying to distinguish between figure and ground, figuration and abstraction in a visual discourse of this kind. One is reminded, almost involuntarily, of Ross Bleckner’s breakthrough work of the late 1980s and early 90s— his phantom birds, ghostly urns and fading flowers ensconced in strangely rococo frameworks. Yet Bleckner’s earlier work was filled with a kind of nostalgia that simply finds no place in Ghekiere’s alien universe. Nostalgia is a distinctly human phenomenon; Ghekiere’s plants, by contrast, are divorced from the human world. They are very much their own creatures, nonhuman entities that refuse to be contained by the rules of the still life, landscape or botanical print—not specimens at all.



Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 115 × 200 cm

Every attempt to reign in the excesses of painterly anarchy has been made in the following work, where all signs of virtuosity are effectively caught up in a spindly thistle with serrated leaves—as if to reiterate more sternly the artist’s original intention of containing visual interest within the forms of the plants themselves. The background has been virtually purged of drips; barring a few scraped-out linear passages that seem to indicate neighboring grass, it is fairly neutral, almost like a photographer’s gray card— albeit darker than the usual 18%. The plant even casts a shadow, as if to insist on its self-contained objecthood with respect to the space around it. It is a distinction we can also follow in Ghekiere’s earlier CAM portraits (Koraalberg 2007). A subtle balance is achieved in the painting I like to call ‘Green Velázquez girl’ (ill. 2) because of the sitter’s resemblance to the Spanish master’s unfinished The Needlewoman (ill. 1). Like many of the recent plants, Ghekiere’s portrait treats the viewer to an exposed view of the layers out of which the painting is constructed. The ground layer is a deep mauve overlaid with vivid spring green, the background articulated by an airbrushed aureole in tints of the same green and pink. Yet the girl’s eyes, nose, lips, collarbone and cleavage have been scraped down to the mauve ground, are constituted by a kind of absence, as is her hint of beaded necklace. These nuanced effects achieve a kind of unbounded extreme in a painting I refer to as ‘Poster girl’ (ill. 3) (so named because she was used on the invitation to the exhibition). The dominant color is also green, this time veering toward olive and ochre. The same scraped, purplish underground emerges from an even more thickly applied aureole, which includes a darker green at the top and corners of the canvas. Areas of scraping down to a pink under-layer frame the girl’s head, which brushed on rather than scraped out as in ‘Green Velázquez girl’. But she is also adorned with a good deal more airbrushing— not only her heavy aureole, but also her dress, a crawling, multilayered confection of spots that seems to disintegrate into different layers, an effect enhanced by her wide, gestural swath of sash, which keeps the whole thing figuratively in place. The overall effect is almost frantic— certainly frenetic, in spite of the girl’s downcast eyes and contemplative pose. When applied to the depiction of human flesh, these techniques raise questions concerning issues of beauty and bodily perfection. Many of the random drips and stains so characteristic of Ghekiere’s figurative work amount to painterly ‘scars’ of sorts,




vivid wounds, but suggesting what? The artist as despoiler of canvas and corrupter of images? Or the impossibility of mastering any image, regardless of its source, given the corrupt conditions of contemporary viewing? When applied to the depiction of plants, however, another, cooler kind of conflict seems to emerge. The kinds of content generated by the subliminal struggle between paint and object persist throughout the series—are indeed characteristic of Ghekiere’s oeuvre as a whole. The zerosum game that seems to result recalls Yukio Mishima’s conviction that words are somehow like ‘white ants’ that eat away at the solidity of the physical world, an inferior verbal substitute for the numinous presence of the real.4 4.


Yukio Mishima, Sun and Steel, trans. John Bester (New York, 1970), p. 8.

1. Diego Velázquez, The Needlewoman, c. 1640–1650 2. Untitled, 2007. Oil on canvas, 115 × 145 cm 3. Untitled, 2007. Oil on canvas, 115 × 145 cm


Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 115 × 200 cm

It is clear, regardless of the chronological position of the fourth term during the actual process of creation, that all previous efforts at containment only become the motor for successive feats of combustion—as if these isotopes, clustered together and compressed under sufficient pressure, are needed to launch the cores of Ghekiere’s internal reactor. The thistle stages its revenge in the fourth term in the series, bursting out of the ‘box’ built to contain it in [3] and exploding in all directions. Whereas the first three plants were somehow notionally ‘rooted’ in the space of the canvas—[1] and [2] do not visibly terminate within that space, and [3] is provided with ostensible neighbors in the form of sere, scraped-out blades of grass—[4] seems to have lifted off into some indeterminate space, its clean-cut stem offering no solace in the form of gently nudging waves or trembling reflections to indicate that it is firmly planted in the ground, or at least swaying from watery roots. Instead it seems to float free, is neither here nor there, and the background only exacerbates this perception. The way the canvas is painted contributes greatly to the effects just described, and the earlier allusion to Lovecraftian topologies is particularly apt here because Ghekiere’s manner of painting often frustrates any attempt at reconstructing a conventional, three-dimensional space around the objects depicted. This fourth painting, for example, starts from a deep, almost black aubergine ground that is overlaid with a pale, almost pink mauve dégradé using mechanical means—the systematic introduction of which has at times earned the artist accolades for being ‘unpainterly’.5 This submerged darkness shines through with varying degrees across the canvas, becoming most pronounced in the corners. The entire surface is dotted with highlights that can no longer really be mistaken for reflections on the water or the effervescence of swamp gas, but boldly march out to claim their identity as vividly autonomous strokes of paint. The indeterminate leaf-like cluster in the lower right hand corner is almost an answer to the sere grasses of [3]; it declares the subterfuge openly—that it is not a plant at all, but strokes of paint pretending to be a plant. Lowlights have been added at random, fingered out of the pale mauve to reveal the dark ground beneath in vertical, motile shapes that look for all the world like errant sperm. This kind of maneuver is vintage Ghekiere: while these seminal marks seem to float across the surface they actually dig into the strata of creation, exposing as surface something that is in fact ‘subterranean’, making recent something

that is in fact past, thereby overturning the archaeology suggested by optical effects alone. This quality is even more strongly expressed in the structure of the thistle itself: carved right down to the blackened bones of the primal layer and then adorned with tinselly leaves and flowering bodies in various middle tones common to the rest of the background, all executed with a fiery, flagrant display of excessive painterly brio. Ghekiere’s habitual subversion of pictorial space and frequent denial of any fixed focal point have predictably given rise to discussions of the artist’s stance with respect to the image. The deception of the image. The residue of the image. The image opposed to the reality of viewing. The image excised from history. The image purged of anecdote. The most frequent allegation is that images thus handled—by Ghekiere but also by other Belgian artists of his generation who paint figuratively using found or photographed material as their point of departure—are inclined to withdraw from the viewer’s intellectual or perceptual grasp, retreating into a theatre of concealing and revealing like some kind of Heideggerian Chinese box mystery.6 For most Heideggerians, however, the play of concealing/revealing alludes to the condition of all objects—image or otherwise. Ghekiere’s paintings, by contrast, offer a kind of restless shimmering that is less an attack on their objecthood or status as things than a tribute to the nature of things as put forth in post-Heideggerian philosophy: the thing as oscillating, vibrating occurrence, a selfcontained multiple transiting through time and space that collides with a random assortment of other, similar or dissimilar actors— whether they be clowns or cosmic forces.7 5.

Gerrit Vermeiren, ‘The Specific Gravity of Perception,’ Joris Ghekiere cxviii-iv (Antwerp, 2004), pp. 5-7, here p. 5. 6. Stephan Berg on Luc Tuymans, ‘The Twilight of the Images,’ Luc Tuymans: The Arena, ed. Stephan Berg (Ostfildern-Ruit, 2003), pp. 8-21, here p. 13. 7. Cf. Graham Harman, The Prince of Networks (Melbourne, 2009), passim, but especially pp. 57-70, commenting on Bruno Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern.



Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 110 × 200 cm

And so the question of objecthood returns to the forefront like a repressed memory. We began with an interrogation of plants as objects within Ghekiere’s painted oeuvre, and we might now expand on this theme by examining the place of paintings among the other kinds of objects that Ghekiere produces, for the plants are not alone. They are hung at the rear of the exhibition space and bracketed by abstractions and figurations that have to be passed like a gauntlet. The space of the gallery is framed, pincer-like, by two murals: one of some horribly uncanny folk dancers engaged in pointless activity, and another of a frankly abstract character. There are images of sand-circles made by the artist on random beaches or desert sands, a low sculptural network that echoes the branching forms found in Ghekiere’s more geometric paintings, a film taken from a spinning canoe projected on a turntable—an entire universe constructed of revolving discs and vertical axes and networks both literal and figurative. Basel and Patras—the art market and the refugee camps—are likewise concerned with revolutions of a kind; both depict temporary accumulations driven by forces that may not be random but are just as inexplicable in the long run. I might have passed over these companion pieces in silence—others will undoubtedly do them greater justice elsewhere in the catalogue—but for the fact that they position Ghekiere so solidly in the present age. It wouldn’t be correct to think of him as just a figurative painter—though even that is an almost meaningless distinction nowadays, since artists can pretty much do as they please, and in as many different visual idioms and media as they please. In fact, they are almost obliged to produce the signs of this enlightened eclecticism at every turn. How many artists today show paintings exclusively, or only videos—without an installation or a few traces of process like sketches, models, diary entries and the like? The artist must be medially omnipresent, and in this Ghekiere seems to be no exception. However, his lateral moves are decidedly not process-based; there are no crabbelinghen or offhand sketches here, only finished works that have a considered place in the artist’s virtual world. As if the plants, found perfection, have inspired the artist to vie with all Creation and form a universe apart. The inclination to step into the role of ‘Grand Fakir’ or ‘Supreme Artificer’—Ghekiere’s words —is perhaps most overtly expressed in later works in the plant series, coming to a head in

the painting placed in the fifth position [5]. All the drive towards ‘world-building’ articulated elsewhere in the exhibition by quasi-molecular grids and disembodied orbits, by the reiteration of related concepts in different media, expresses itself here in the plant’s final break from any semblance of roots or grounded stems. What we are probably seeing is the extremity of a plant with a compound, complex inflorescence, but it is more planet than plant. More self-contained than any of its predecessors, its stem has vanished, absorbed into the plurality of the raceme. The background is comparatively calm, the light verdigris dégradé spun over a deeper shade of teal, its vaguely circular application hinting at and being co-opted by the turning of this restless sphere. Indeterminate racemes rise out of a spherical cluster of leaves or blossoms, almost mimicking tall coniferous trees supported by a miniature biosphere, rather like the tiny planets surmounted by baobabs in Le petit Prince. There are drips, but they only enhance the impression of a fertile atmosphere charged with life-giving humidity: a piece of virgin rainforest where creatures have yet to emerge from the primal ooze. Yet this planet has no centre, no core, could be blown apart with a puff of breath, like a dandelion.



Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 115 × 200 cm

This is in fact what happens in its subsequent incarnation: it blows apart, or begins to decay. The delicate equilibrium installed by the artistcreator in the living, breathing terrarium piece that was [5] has ruptured, releasing all manner of spores into the background. If the transition from one term to the next evokes a sense of decay—for the notion of decay is indeed recurrent in much of Ghekiere’s work—it is radioactive decay: the aftermath of a supernova, a dying red star. In [6] a single dominant raceme is left standing, has taken over while remaining blossoms begin to languish, growing withered and sere in shades of grey and white and ashen pink. A dark blot, like rot, begins to form at the notional south pole of this planetary construction as if to signal some vampiric presence at its core—again shades of Lovecraft.8 The dark ground is covered in more than the usual layers of increasingly paler shades of pink and begins to reassert its presence, becomes practically livid: a virtual cacophony of restless, motile trajectories that escape in search of new and fertile ground in which to plant themselves. The lively brushwork of this teeming field revives the impression, so strong in [4], of a watery environment or swamp, a logical substrate for that which is portrayed. Which is what? A fruiting body giving itself up to the disintegration that will ensure the survival of its kind? Or the subversive proliferation of paint—like a chaotic burst of subatomic particles—that threatens to overturn the structure of the universe by force of violence, rendering the dark face of the waters once more inscrutable? Or is it just the law of artistic entropy, the inevitable dissolution that rewards the hubris of trying to create a parallel universe in the first place? Or Velázquez with a vengeance, now loosed upon the postpost-modern world in which Ghekiere operates with apocalyptic results? 8.

H.P. Lovecraft, ‘The Shunned House,’ in The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, ed. S.T. Joshi (London, 2005), pp. 90-115.



Untitled, 2010. Oil on canvas, 115 × 200 cm

Whatever its original chronological position with respect to its peers might have been, the seventh and final term in the series generates most clearly what can be called an uncanny effect in the classical Freudian sense.9 Formally it shares a great deal in common with [4]: its disembodied character, the tracery of branches and blossoms that give no end of occasion for excesses of virtuosity, and the animated, almost autonomous gestures of the background brushwork that form a teeming substrate of currents and reflections that resemble some kind of primal swamp. This final plant hovers over the face of the waters like a shaman’s bewitched staff, sent on some dire errand by its master. It leans forward attentively, its heavy head of drooping blossoms signaling some kind of vegetative intelligence. It possesses a kind of frenetic energy that harks back to an older, animistic conception of the universe—a phase of development we would like to think we have surmounted, but which stages its return in Ghekiere’s confronting, non-human portraits. It is perhaps this nonanthropomorphic aspect that makes them so uncanny in the first place—uncanny as opposed to comical or absurd or cute, like talking vegetables in some forgotten Warner Bros cartoon or Murakami anime.10 With Ghekiere’s plants, the veneer of academically inclined ‘naturalism’ plays a crucial anchoring role in this respect, offering a ‘serious’ ground from which to depart, a familiar basis that permits the re-entry of the strange. But if it is to be uncanny, doesn’t Ghekiere’s work somehow have to signal the return of something repressed? In attempting to answer this question I am not inclined to stick to the strict outlines of psychoanalysis, particularly when a simpler explanation is ready to hand, sitting on the very surface as it were. Rather than turn Freud’s diagnostic tools quite literally on the psyche of the artist or viewer, it seems advisable to turn to the artistic unconscious of recent decades in search of a more figurative interpretation. For many ideological reasons we can all think of, pleasure is no longer allowed in contemporary art, its production and consumption, unless it be a furtive, complicit, unjustified or even pornographic pleasure in looking at things that are not meant to be seen and/or enjoyed—or at least, not meant to be seen for any reason other than a helpless admission of one’s own inevitable voyeuristic tendencies and hopeless complicity. The enjoyment of art in any medium seems to have become reactionary, irresponsible, the domain of leftover libertines from another, simpler age—if not of innocence

then at least bourgeois naïveté. It is perhaps this repressed urge that returns to the surface in Ghekiere’s work, particularly the plants: the pleasure of looking, the vicarious enjoyment of loaded brushstrokes that once had a proper, canny place in some earlier stage of our artistic existence. Something normally hidden that is now exposed—you enjoyed that didn’t you? Like Lovecraft’s hero reveling in the multi-dimensional, non-human aspects of his being. Perhaps this is what Ghekiere’s plants have come to remind us: that we were never meant to be modern in the first place. 9. In the catalogue to the exhibition Joris Ghekiere: Gradient Dark (Bruges, De Bond, 2009), both Jos Van den Bergh (p. 9) and Jeroen de Preter (p. 20) compare his work to that of David Lynch— arguably one of Lovecraft’s most evident heirs. 10. Though to be fair, there is a healthy portion of Shinto animism lurking behind the adorable surfaces of Murakami-world; see for example Dick Hebdige, ‘Flat Boy vs. Skinny: Takashi Murakami and the Battle for “Japan”,’ © Murakami, exh. cat. Los Angeles (The Museum of Contemporary Art) / Brooklyn (Brooklyn Museum of Art) / Frankfurt (Museum für Moderne Kunst) / Bilbao (Guggenheim Museum), org. Paul Schimmel, 2008–09, pp. 14-51, here p. 48.












pp. 65-74: Installatiezichten California, De Garage, Mechelen

Untitled, 2010 Oil on canvas, 160 × 200 cm

Letter to Joris Ghekiere I find it hard to write about your work. And that has nothing to do with its qualities, on the contrary. Most of the texts on your work I have read, are in my view vague and casual. Authors circle your work like a hyena circles a dying buffalo. For the sake of clarity, I will therefore start right away with saying that in my case it will be no different. And yet, with a certain degree of modesty that is prerequisite, I will write this letter with sufficient hesitations and the necessary space between the words to enable people to look at your paintings. I have been lucky, because several times I have had the occasion to visit you in your studio. Surrounded by your paintings, we talked about literature, travelling, painting. We exchanged spontaneous thoughts and talked more about painting. During those talks we were surrounded by your most recent work. As new, still unfamiliar “shapes”, they provide the context for wonder. On the occasion of our last encounter, there was even more wonder. Suddenly you took me to the computer screen and you showed me a series of photographs made on beaches. Each photograph is dominated by a circle. All circles are different in diameter. You made them with driftwood or some other material in an absurd ritual act. Inevitably I thought of Robert Smithson, Marcel Duchamp, Kenneth Noland and Anish Kapoor. But the documentation that accompanies this “performance” has nothing to do with Spiral Jetty, Roto Reliefs, And Half or My Homeland. The photographs are quite revealing considered from the perspective of your paintings. The relief of the sand is swept away, it becomes flat and dissolves. In your ritual act you create an image by wiping out another image. For you, painting is a way of thinking, maybe even a way of being. It would be all too easy to approach your work from the opposite pair figuration-abstraction. No matter which “theme” you paint—wedding hairstyles, weeds, jewellery—time and again your images/ representations or structures are infected. The images become contaminated. They are lifted from the comfort of our standard observation. The colour may be called industrial or vulgar, yet it is certainly devoid of any realism. The ritual dances, customs, objects or human figures that feature in your paintings all too often allude to a superficial definition of beauty. And that is no coincidence. Time and again you subvert superficial surfaces or phenomena. As if this were a pictorial ethnography of our time. Camgirls as the illusion of a beautiful seduction and vulgar eroticism. But also camgirls or weeds as a stance against the easy allure of lots of painting. Each of your works is a restless idea that reveals an image and forces us to look. All images already exist, all images have already been painted. It is you point of view and the way you paint that guarantee the probable rejuvenation of our observation. You paint like an anatomist in search of the substance of the body of painting, without any formal romanticism. Your works grow rank. They wander from a portrait to the courtyard of Art Basel and then to an abstract “horizontal” structure. All works are without title. They remain without name. The accurate speed with which you paint them does not need a title. Back to my last visit. You remember I had some difficulty with the works Basel and Patras. Apart from the pictorial qualities of these works, I described them as an unnecessary sententious comment. I have to reconsider my point of view. Recently I had an unlikely experience at an art fair in Madrid. I did not take me a long time to start thinking differently about art and life. At the fair suddenly—surrounded by financial preoccupations and hundreds of works of art—an old man died in my arms. I didn’t think of a pietà— I thought of your work at this exhibition. I thought of life and death, of the loss of value, the loss of meaning. The slowness you lend our observation through your paintings is of invaluable significance for art, and maybe also for life. Philippe Van Cauteren Ghent, February 2011


Joris Ghekiere °1955, Kortrijk (BE) Lives and works in Klein-Willebroek (BE)

EXHIBITIONS Solo / Two-Person Exhibitions 2011

‘CALIFORNIA’, Garage Mechelen (BE) 2010 ‘Sequense#1’, Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) 2009 ‘GRADIENT DARK’, De Bond, Bruges (BE) 2008 ‘Patterns’, Pocket Room, Antwerp (BE) (14.09.08 – 18.10.08) ‘Joris Ghekiere & Philip Willem Badenhorst’, Toomey Tourell Gallery, San Francisco (US) 2007 ‘Cam Portraits’, Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) 2006 Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) Ravenstein Galleries, represented by Koraalberg, Brussels (BE) 2005 Lokaal 01, Breda (NL) ‘Cakewalk. Joris Ghekiere, Lucie Renneboog, Steve Van Den Bosch’, CC Strombeek, Strombeek-Bever (BE) ‘Joris Ghekiere and Herman De Cuyper, Landscapes’, Kasteel Bel-Air, Willebroek (BE) 2004 Transit Gallery, Mechelen (BE) Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) 2003 Toomey Tourell Gallery, with Philip Willem Badenhorst San Francisco (US) 2002 Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) 2001 Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) 2000 Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) Window Gallery – Walter Van Beirendonck, Antwerp (BE) De Ziener, Asse (BE) 1999 Toomey Tourell Gallery, , with Philip Willem Badenhorst San Francisco (US) 1998 Cultureel Centum De Ster, Willebroek (BE) Toomey Tourell Gallery, with Philip Willem Badenhorst, San Francisco (US) 1997 Stockman Project, with Lucas Devriendt, CC Kortrijk, Kortrijk (BE) 1996 Antarctica, Berchem (BE) 1995 Art Box, with Philip Aguirre y Otegui, Waregem (BE) 1994 De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam (NL) 1993 A.D. Gallery, Oostende (BE) 1990 Galerie Rudolphe Janssen, Brussels (BE) 1989 Museum van Schone Kunsten, Brussels (BE) 1985 Laguada Gallery, Granada (ES) 1984 Cintrik Gallery, Antwerp (BE) ‘Zeildoekschilderingen’, Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg (NL)


Group Exhibitions 2011 2010 2009 2007

2006 2005 2004

2003 2001 2000 1999 1995 1992 1988 1985 1984 1983 1982

Trajector art fair / Centrifugal projects, Brussels (BE) ‘Les Choses Perdues’ Vegas Gallery, London (GB) ‘Fading’, Museum van Elsene, Elsene (BE) ‘Paulo Post Futurum’, Breda’s Museum, Breda (NL) ‘Pentimento. Kris Fierens in dialogue with Carla Arocha, Joris Ghekiere, Perry Roberts and Pieter Vermeersch’, Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) ‘Wall Paintings’, Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) ‘Mute’, Antwerp (BE) ‘Take Off 2006’, Koraalberg, Antwerp (BE) ‘Kunst im Verbund’, BASF – Tinglado, Tarragona (ES) ‘Kunst im Verbund’, Galerie – BASF, Schwarzheide (DE) ‘Kunst im Verbund’, BASF, KBCtoren, Antwerp (BE) ‘The Final Floor Show’, objectif_ exhibitions, Antwerp (BE) ‘Kunst im Verbund’, BASF, Ludwigshafen (DE) ‘Mo(NU)ment@Bornem’, curated by Ruth Renders, Bornem (BE) ‘Eclips. Tentoonstelling rond het verdwijnen’, curated by Stef Van Bellingen, Bornem – Puurs – Willebroek (BE) ‘De landverhuizers’, CC de Warande, Turnhout (BE) ‘Fonkeling’, CC Strombeek, Strombeek-Bever (BE) ‘Speelhoven 03. Drifting – Dérivé’, Aarschot (BE) M&M Gallery, Bornem (BE) ‘De brakke hond’, ’t Elzenveld, Antwerp (BE) ‘Trouble Spot Painting’, MuHKA, Antwerp (BE) ‘La Condition Humaine’, De Witte Zaal, Sint-Lucas, Ghent (BE) ‘Kunstwerken verworven door de Vlaamse Gemeenschap’, MUHKA, Antwerp (BE) ‘Modernism in Painting’, PMMK, Oostende (BE) ‘Vlaamse Kunstenaars uit het PMMK’, ICC, Antwerp (BE) ‘Kunstwerken verworven door de Vlaamse Gemeenschap’, Genk (BE) ‘Jeune Peinture Belge’, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (BE) ‘Espace Nord’, Liège (BE) 7 Times Contemporary Art, Ghent (BE) ‘Actuele Beelding’, ICC, Antwerp (BE)


‘luifel’ OLV. Ziekenhuis Aalst (BE) 2002 Wall Painting, Van Artevelde­ straat, Gebouw ABVV (BE) 2000 Fontein Antwerpse Waterwerken, Gemeentepark, Kontich (BE) 1999 Wandintegratie, Digitale Print, O.C.M.W. De Plataan, Izegem (BE) 1997 Integration Project ‘Tree’ Kunst Noord, Graaf de Ferrarisgebouw, Brussels (Flemish Community) (BE)

PUBLICATIONS 2007 Cesteleyn, Ann, e.a., ‘Van Wim Delvoye tot Luc Tuymans (1). De Standaard kunstbibliotheek, Tielt, Uitgeverij Lannoo, 2007. 2006 s.n., ‘joris ghekiere mmv-mmvi’, text by Frank Maes, Koraalberg Gallery, Antwerpen; MER. Paper Kunsthalle, Gent, 2006. 2005 Pas, Johan, ‘Het Picturaal Verlangen. Schilderen in Vlaanderen voor en na Troublespot.Painting’, de Brakke Grond Vlaams Cultuurhuis, Amsterdam, 2005. 2004 s.n., ‘joris ghekiere cxviii-iv’, text by Hilde Van Gelder and Gerrit Vermeiren, Koraalberg Art Gallery, Antwerpen; MERZ, Gent, 2004. 2001 s.n., ‘Joris Ghekiere’, (exh. cat.), text by Wim Peeters, Koraalberg Art Gallery, Antwerpen, 2001. 1999 s.n.,’ Trouble Spot Painting’, (exh. cat.), MuHKA, Antwerp, 1999. 1998 s.n., ‘Streekgerechten, deel 1: Joris Ghekiere’, (exh. cat.), Cultureel Centrum De Ster, Willebroek, 1998. 1992 Elias, Willem, Minne, Florent, Bonito Oliva, Achille, a.o., ‘Modernism in Painting. 10 Jaar Schilderkunst in Vlaanderen / 10 Years of Painting in Flanders’, Stichting Kunstboek, Brugge, 1992.


2007 I.V.O, ‘Vrouwen van lichte schijn. Joris Ghekiere – Cam Portraits’, in: ZONE/03, Sept. 26 – Oct. 09, 2007, p. 70. Holthof, Marc en Ruyters, Marc, ‘(Meer dan) twee soorten van schilderen’, in: <H>ART 26, September 27, 2007, pp.4-5. 2006 Daenen, Ward, ‘Kunsthuizen laten brandalarm loeien voor verdraagzaamheid’, in: De Morgen, Sept. 30, 2006, pp. 62-63. 2005 Van Hove, Jan, ‘Schilderkunst is weer springlevend’, in: De Standaard, Dec. 29, 2005, p. 19. Van Beek, Nils, ‘Iconostase’, in: ThRu, 2005, pp.1-3. 2004 Van Hove, Jan, ‘Liefde is…Een kunstwerk kopen’, in: De Standaard – Film & Cultuur, March 31, 2004, pp. 1-3. Ruyters, Marc, ‘Schilderen tegen het navelstaren. Joris Ghekiere met tentoonstelling en boek’, in: De Tijd, March 24, 2004. 2003 Roelandt, Els, ‘Spelen in Speelhoven’, in: Tijd Cultuur, Sept. 03, 2003, p.8. Laureyns, Jeroen, ‘Ongehoorde glans’, in: Tijd Cultuur, April 02, 2003, p. 8. 2002 Laureyns, Jeroen, ‘Zonder Hokjes’, in: Tijd Cultuur, Nov. 12, 2002, p. 18. Van Laer, Bie, ‘Jong kwartet op dreef. Joris Ghekiere, Pieter Vermeersch, Kris Fierens en Gauthier Hubert’, in: Zone 03, June 19, 2002. 2001 Roelandt, Els, Ruyters, Marc, ‘Ghekieres kijkkasten’, in: Tijd Cultuur, Nov. 07, 2001, p. 17. Van Laer, Bie, ‘Joris Ghekiere. Donkere reflectie’, in: Zone 03, 2001. Van Laer, Bie, ‘Langzame opmerkingen. 7 Vlaamse en 7 Hongaarse kunstenaars’, in: Zone 03, 2001. 2000 Ruyters, Marc, ‘Verschoven wereld’, in: Tijd Cultuur, Oct. 18, 2000, p. 19. Lambrecht, Luk, ‘Twee keer de wereld in Kontich’, in: De Morgen, Oct. 11, 2000, p. 26. 1999 Braet, Jan, ‘Sneeuw op komst. Stralende vlakken een notoire crash witte klonters’, in: Knack, May 26, 1999, p. 112. Dewulf, Bernard, ‘Schilder, schilder. “Trouble Spot Painting’: een tentoonstelling over actuele schilderkunst’, in: De Morgen, May 21, 1999, pp. 57-58.


Demeester, Ann, ‘Aanzet tot artistiek integratiebeleid. Kunstwerken geïnstalleerd in Conscience-gebouw Vlaamse Gemeenschap’, in: De Morgen, Febr. 12, 1999, p. 13. 1998 Lambrecht, Luk, ‘Streekgerecht’, in: De Morgen, Dec. 12, 1998, p. 9. 1997 Ruyters, Marc, ‘Kunst binnen en buiten kantoren’, in: De Financieel-Economische Tijd, Nov. 8, 1997. Van Hoorick, Kari, ‘Noeveren verzoent industrieel verleden en moderne kunst’, in: AM, Aug. 26, 1997, p. 14. 1996 Ruyters, Mark, ‘Zonder sporen’, in: Weekend Knack, June 19, 1996, p. 71. 1995 Bracke, Erik, ‘De poel waarin eeuwen van beschaving liggen’, in: De Morgen, Oct. 27, 1995, p. 19. Ruyters, Marc, ‘Perspektief’, in: Weekend Knack, April 12, 1995, pp. 123-124. 1994 Bracke, Eric, ‘Het nieuwste Vlaamse kunstpatrimonium. Kunstwerken in 1992 en 1993 verworven door de Vlaamse Gemeenschap in MUHKA’, in: De Morgen, Dec. 12, 1994, p. 14. 1993 W.M., ‘Mooi, maar waar zit de boodschap in de avant-gardekunst?’, in: Het Nieuwsblad, Febr. 25, 1993. s.n., ‘Door de ogen van een hert’, in: Weekend Knack, Febr. 24, 1993, p. 326. 1992 Elias, Willem, ‘Modernism in Painting. 10 jaar schilderkunst in Vlaanderen’, in: Markant, Sept. 11, 1992, pp. 16-16. Ruyters, Marc, ‘Niet drummen. “Modernism in Painting”, of tien jaar schilderkunst in Vlaanderen: de tentoonstelling in Oostende wil nadrukkelijk bewijzen dat wij nog altijd een volk van schilders zijn’, in: Knack, Aug. 12, 1992, pp. 64-65.

ColoPHON Joris Ghekiere – California 26.03.2011 – 29.05.2011 De Garage, Mechelen Curator Koen Leemans Co-curator Win Van den Abbeele Co-ordination Koen Leemans Anne Van de Voorde Texts Koen Leemans Irene Schaudies Philippe Van Cauteren Wim Van Mulders Translation Dirk Verbiest Photography Pieter Huybrechts Graphic design Luc Derycke & Jeroen Wille, Studio Luc Derycke Printing Cultura, Wetteren Distribution Exhibitions International, Leuven Cultuurcentrum Mechelen Minderbroedersgang 5 B-2800 Mechelen t. +32 15 29 40 00 f. +32 15 29 40 29 ISBN 9789077193341 D/2011/0797/036

Published by Cultuurcentrum Mechelen, Koen Leemans for vzw PROCC Minderbroedersgang 5 B-2800 Mechelen All rights reserved Texts © 2011 the authors Art © 2011 Joris Ghekiere

Thanks to Koen Leemans Win Van den Abbeele Luc Derycke Irene Schaudies Wim Van Mulders Phillippe Van Cauteren Francois Verlinden Niels Van der Plancken Ilke Devries Pieter Huybrechts Lars and the technical staff at Cultuurcentrum Mechelen Special thanks Orlan, Abel en Inge Henneman

ISBN 9789077193341

De Garage, Mechelen