In Jester, an exhibition of studio paintings 2022. These are small and medium sized.
The exhibition space is a protected building of C-Mine in Genk, it is not possible to nail in the walls to hang the paintings. For three weeks I painted a 3.10 x 13.45 m canvas, 'Symbiocene', on site to hang the studio paintings and ceramics.
In preparation for the exhibition, I stayed for a few days in April 2022 at the Emile van Doren Museum in Genk. The local landscape artist Emile van Doren painted in the 'Station d’artistes' colony with fellow painters and scientists, who came to investigate the rich biodiversity of the region.
"Between 1840 and 1940 more than 450 landscape painters visited Genk" (source: museum website).
Meanwhile in our landscape, fire erases, water swallows, the disappearance of living species (except for humans) is not 5% or 10% but 70%, 80%, 90%, 100%, the subject of landscape did not seem outdated but inevitable and imposed itself on me.
I got interested in the concepts of Glenn Albrecht, an Australian environmental philosopher, "Earth Emotions”. G. Albrecht considers collapsology, but brings new concepts for a new world.
While painting, I listened a lot to Glenn Albrecht. Hence the title of the large canvas "Symbiocene" (in contrary to the Anthropocene, Symbiocene is a cohabitation without human domination over its surroundings) and "Solastalgia" for the painting with the flying carpet. While the exhibition is called "Droomland". A title from the 1930s, from a poster advertising the city of Genk, a time when mine workers could not see the light of day.
The form of "Symbiocene", landscape, longitudinal, in a frame, arose from my memories in Beirut.
The image of large wall carpets filled with photos, talisman, gris-gris, artefacts and objects of all kinds, like unrolled cabinets of curiosity, common and usual in oriental homes. A moving visual walk with multiple perspectives, where perdition is a source of discovery.
By choosing this image (of the wall carpet), I wanted to make the building's heritage site a home for a large carpet representing another type of heritage, natural to be protected, which would in turn host a selection of paintings from the intimacy of the studio.
Not wanting to reproduce a gloomy and disastrous real landscape, I painted a kingdom exclusively of birds, leaving humans out of it to see what would come of it. When I started the 3.10 x 13.45 m painting, this was the only indication I gave myself. Everything else came about during the three weeks of painting on site.
A scene with birds, vegetation through the play of colours, transparencies, repentances, accidents and fights. Human beings are absent. Except in the dawn or dusk part. They are leaning there, observing, trying to understand, to be able to protect the view one day. Like the protection of man-made historical heritage, by observing and understanding, one can better protect the observed, it is said.
The superpositions, juxtapositions, confrontations, associations, camouflages of the studio paintings are a sort of mixed-up gigogne. Fragments of paintings that move together to create themselves interminably.
The large painting with the small paintings and the ceramics is a single creation that is modular. and exists alone. It allowed me to experiment with a new space for playing with paint, to take out of myself a space that would perhaps astonish and surprise me.
The whole is a giant miniature, with influences, details more rigorous than others, perspectives, interlacing, repetitions, geometries and colours that confront each other. A confrontation of minor and major art. Dead ends and twists. Up close the scale opens up and expands into a vast field. It is like a map through which the story is told with disparate elements. The paintings and ceramics hung are excluded from the space that surrounds them. They are between two worlds, that of the flat surface and of space, the tensions they create in the relations and relationships between the two pictorial spaces bring the irreconcilable closer, they are indispensable here but not definitive.