Perrotin Paris is pleased to host a new exhibition of works by Belgian artist Pieter Vermeersch, his sixth solo exhibition for this gallery and the third in Paris.
Vermeersch’s artwork feeds on all the antagonisms of the discipline, seeking, for example, to be both figurative (it always has a photographic source, and these photographs are always made by Vermeersch, even when they are what he calls “accidental”) and abstract (because these “accidental” photographs often only have to offer a few informal color variations).
Even when the canvas is “abstract,” it is paradoxically fabricated as a photorealistic painting, the photographic image being reproduced in it through a meticulous system of grids. Of the canvas, it sometimes only retains the format, leading it towards other media: in the Paris exhibition, the first room includes silkscreen prints on marble and the last room displays a set of oil paintings on fossilized wood – a wood that, as Vermeersch puts it, time has “mineralized.” In the marble silkscreen prints, “matter becomes image” in favor of an “industrialization of pointillism.”
Vermeersch’s art is neither illustrative nor narrative: in short, art is its only crutch. His process often starts from the materials – for example, images of marble are silkscreened onto the marble and the image is enlarged to such an extent that each grid dot shows the support around it – and from the virtues and personal stories that the artist projects onto them. The works, and even more so the exhibitions, translate into a physical experience Vermeersch’s scientific and poetic reflections – reflections which focus on time and space.
Stone is very primary. If you break open a boulder from the river, you can see millions of years fixed in its veins. By mining, cutting, and polishing (...) we make nature more visible. The passing of time becomes palpable! And we get a glimpse of something that was not previously visible. The history of stone has an almost cosmic dimension, which I want to reactivate in my work. Marble is stone that is metamorphosed under the influence of temperature, pressure, or hydrothermal fluids; it is often millions of years old and contains fossils. Such a piece of marble is like crystallized time and space
The moment of the exhibition, for Pieter Vermeersch, is truly a moment of crystallization that goes beyond the presentation of the works. More precisely, his exhibitions are ingenious systems – of perception, reflection, apprehension – which put into practice in a more literal way the divisions of time and space.
The ingenious moment of the exhibition is also when the wall works are temporarily confronted with the materials and colors of this “room divider”: in the Paris exhibition, the polycarbonate and the mirror, indus-trial products, stage the marble and wood in a conflicting manner. Similarly, the works themselves expose conflicts between the industrial and the natural, for example, through the application of the chemical components of screen-printing ink on raw marble. Conflictual or as “beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella?” The system that makes up Vermeersch’s exhibition organizes the viewer’s experience of these conflicts in a way that also keeps logic at bay.
The paintings are based on photographic sources, and it is important that they come from our reality, even though they may look undefined, because I'm not a complete abstract painter. The aspect of time is something that concerns me a lot, and photography is a related tool in that specific domain. My concern is to create images that are a kind of zero degree of representation, bringing us to a level of time and space where we can sense the echo of the unknown we all know.
Born in 1973 in Kortrijk, Belgium
Lives and works between Turin, Italy and Antwerp, Belgium
Pieter Vermeersch’s (Kortrijk, 1973) artistic research of painting expands beyond the confinement of the canvas. His work often consists of large spatial interventions, consistently subverting territory whether conceived for an exhibition space or adjusted to a pre-existing architectural site. In addition to the immersive, painterly installations and gradient wall paintings, his oeuvre also includes an array of ephemeral zero degree paintings on canvas. Pieces are brought to a concrete reality by the irreversible process of chiseling and milling natural stone. His works are complimented by a series of photographic prints or marble slabs reactivated with delicate touches of paint, a stroke of the brush or gradual color planes. With representation and abstraction set as parameters, Vermeersch’s oeuvre triggers infinitesimal perceptual experiences, presenting us with a sense of color that is referential of the gap between appearance and disappearance; the gap in which the divisions between two and three dimensional, immaterial and tangible, time and space are blurred.
—More about the artist