Herr Seele, Kamagurka, Cowboy Henk
11.11.21 - 23.12.21
Peter Van Heirseele, known as Herr Seele, is a painter pur sang with a great admiration for the Flemish primitives, but also with a penchant for the baroque. He is intrigued by the old masters. But he is just as much a fan of Joseph Beuys and conceptual art. This artist made a self-portrait every day for a year, which was then published on Facebook. He didn’t see this as an expression of narcissism but rather as a fascinating learning process. He created Cowboy Henk together with his colleague Kamagurka. A daily comic strip needed a lead character. As there were few, if any, cowboys in the world of daily comic strips at the time, this was the choice. Both are lovers of vintage comics and of Tintin with the clear line. Peter Van Heirseele does not only opt for the clear line, but also for a thick one. He still draws with a redispen that produces such a line effortlessly. It is a pen that is a bit of a hindrance to developing a smooth drawing style. As a counterbalance, he paints and I have noticed that he does so with great skill. In the exhibition, we are confronted with this same Cowboy Henk in two ways. Firstly, there are the real comic strips produced by Herr Seele in collaboration with Kamagurka. The latter supplies the plot, which the artist then moulds into a form. This is absurd humour that is closely related to surrealism and dada. In addition, the artist also shows paintings in which Cowboy Henk plays a prominent role. He is situated in a painterly world that is closely connected to the world of the Flemish primitives and the painters from the baroque era. The artist certainly also feels an affinity with the surrealists and, in addition, he is unusually familiar with art history and the developments in the course of the 20th century. Discovering these references is part of the pleasure for both the maker and the viewer. He uses the methods of the old masters to create his paintings. He always paints with oil paint and feels akin to Magritte’s période vache. He always paints on canvas with a prepared underlay (the imprematura), lets the painting dry overnight and then goes over it again the next day. He considers the use of an imprematura important, as it allows him to use various colours without them being affected by the white canvas. When working, he uses the grinding stick or the painting stick that a painter uses to rest his hand with the brush on. It is an instrument that is no longer used very often, yet it is handy when details or fine contours have to be painted. It characterises him, Peter Van Heirseele unites modernity and tradition, albeit with a smile.
Daan Rau Ghent, October 2021
Ruth van Haren Noman, bo—he—mi
11.11.21 - 23.12.21
Ruth van Haren Noman likes to be on the sidelines of the art world and then pops up once in a while with an exhibition of her work. She feels good that way. She always manages to surprise. During her formative years as a painter, she came up with video work, installations and drawings, taking her own life and permanent quest as her subject, something that was less prevalent in that period (1997) as it is now. The work was pure and honest and also managed to seduce Jan Hoet, who bought her drawings for S.M.A.K., the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent. She was also accepted for a postgraduate course at the HISK (Higher Insitute for Fine Arts). After a residency in Duisburg at the Lehmbruck Museum she found the pressure to make art too overwhelming and temporarily put her artistic practice on hold. Getting to know her partner and some distance from the art world eventually brought the freedom and peace she needed and she started painting again, but now leewardly and without the pressure from outside. Ruth van Haren Noman’s images are difficult to define, they are unusual and they demand an undivided attention. At her second exhibition in Antwerp, they even evoked some rejection, but also even more interest. They simply take time. And, of course, the willingness of the viewer to enter Ruth’s world without prejudice. So, like an explorer, go and discover. Be surprised, fascinated by the associations her images evoke, because isn’t it true that this artist makes you look at yourself through her work? At one point she started painting flowers, but in such a disarming way that they transcended the naive image, her intuitive approach exposed a new reality, something that transcended the superficial by miles. The paintings that Ruth van Haren Noman now presents in Brussels continue to intrigue. They look like riddles without being threatening, they have a large arsenal of shapes and colours that pull you out of your daily existence into a wonderful parallel universe. This universe is not really unknown to you, you recognise things and forms but they are in a different context and become part of a meta-reality to which you can travel with your mind, enter and feel good. The paintings of this artist allow you to look differently and to experience differently. That in itself is a special merit. Ruth also gives her paintings titles and she considers them important. Whether those titles make things clearer to the viewer is not certain. For the artist, they are the finishing touch to the work, they become part of it like the naming of a child’s birth. What the viewer does learn from them is that the language in that other universe is sometimes similar, but therefore does not cover the identical meaning. Here too, let your imagination run wild.
Daan Rau Ghent, October 2021.
1180 Bruxelles - Belgique
Zwart Huis displays Belgian contemporary art. The gallery started its activities in 2001 at the modernist “De Beir” house in Knokke, Belgium. Solo shows were set up in the fifteen rooms of the house; the museum-style exhibitions took into account the building’s modernist architecture. Since 2014 the gallery is run by Elke Helbig who opened a new space at the Rivoli Building in Brussels in 2017. She collaborates with various contemporary Belgian artists: Liliane Vertessen (1952), Jan De Vliegher (1964), Hilde Overbergh (1964), Albert Pepermans (1947), Colin Waeghe (1980), Antoine Goossens (1992) and Koen Deprez (1964) amongst others. Zwart Huis has a tradition of figurative painting but also looks at photography and conceptual art. The exhibition program contains 5 solo exhibitions annually. The gallery has participated to Art Brussels in 2019, 2018, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2004, 2003 and 2002.