Photo credits: Pauline Poelmans
In my work I approach a variety of symbolic, historical and psychological themes. It mainly exists of sculptures, experimental paintings, graphic research and land art pieces. Often, I combine these things to create thoughtful formations in private and public spaces.
As an artist but also as a person I look at the world with a critical eye and the necessary scepticism. In our society there is a tendency of collective indifference. By creating undefinable images, I want to stimulate the viewer to think about what they are looking at and encourage them to take a critical stance for what’s coming to them. Not only do I want to question human strategies, but also myself. For example, I like to walk the line that balances between glorifying and condemning violence. What is ethical and what not? With the necessary humor but also severity I explore this topic in my work. You can recognize this for example in Some geoglyps I made like ‘Louis Vuitton’ of ‘Ferrari’ where the question is raised: “Is this an environmental friendly interference in the landscape or is this an intrusive commercial stunt?” At the same time, my work is also an expression of an inner conflict: why is the violence, that I condemn, also so attractive to me?
Just like the similar ‘verre églomisé – technique’, these paintings are made behind glass. I wanted to disconnect painting in general from the idea that painting is always applying paint from the back to the front. The origin of creating these works lies in the poetic idea in showing the back of a painting. The colours and forms manifest in a very different way because of how the paint reacts on the glass. Colours are brighter and forms look sharper. The contradiction is that the paint you see is literally flattened while what you get to see has a lot of spatial perspective. There is also a link between landscape painting and architecture. Glass is a common material in architecture and has on one side the function of bringing in light and on the other side being a window to the outside world. The scenes that are painted often look like rigid landscapes that remind us of dashing seas and/or rugged rocky landscapes. All paintings are literally windows where the spectator can gaze upon different worlds. Often, I combine painting with collage techniques of photos I made or found. Animal jaws held wide open refer to the primitive, violent nature of predators that flourish in the dynamic and severe sceneries. Sometimes you see human mouths. They symbolize the cruelty of human against human. Another common subject is the cauliflower ear. This is an irreversible condition that occurs in the martial arts world. These forms represent the consequence of violence but are at the same time a status symbol for the victor.
My work is characterized by a wide range of different media. This is not irresolution but finds its origin in a broad interest and high sensitivity for materiality. I get inspiration from observing the world. Important themes are different (sub)cultures, historical events, hierarchy within our society but also more subtle subjects like the gesture of a brush stroke while painting, a movement or a word… Some works a more symbolic while other are more formalistic. The creative process is rather intuitive.
Alexandra Bertels, Pauline Poelmans, Argus Vision , Jan Castermans