painting: Assault on the Indian Embassy, Kabul
Assault on the Indian Embassy, Kabul
Assault on the Indian Embassy, Kabul, Acryl on canvas, 2010
70cm x 100cm
painting: Au jardin (In  the Garden)
Au jardin (In the Garden)
Au jardin (In the Garden), Oil on canvas, 2009
39cm x 49cm
painting: Enfant + Chien n°11
Enfant + Chien n°11
Enfant + Chien n°11, Markers on paper, 2009
138cm x 120cm

Progressive recuperation of the clichés

An off line-exhibition curated for Ra, Antwerpen (29 April 2010 - 23 Mai 2010)


Introduction by Liv Vaisberg, Director at Ponyhof Gallery

According to the Littré's Dictionnaire de la langue française, cliché comes from the verb clicher (kli-ché) a typography term referring to the action of pouring a melted material into a relief printing plate cast in a mold, made from composed type or an original plate. This technique enables one to print a high number of proofs without making a new composition each time. This technique is called stereotype in English which also has the same meaning as cliché, both in English and French, which refers to widely held (but fixed and oversimplified) images or ideas that are overused and betray a lack of original thoughts.

Cliché in contemporary French and Dutch also means a photograph snapshot. This exhibition is about the use contemporary painters make of ready-made images found in the media, on the internet and in cinematographic culture. It shows how artists use the archaic traditional medium, paint, in order to distance themselves from the ever invading images that enter permanently and frenetically into our everyday lives, to a point that there is no longer hierarchy or importance given to those images. Unlike video art and photography which evoke directness and speed and offers a sensual immediacy, painting contributes to the contemporary visual culture by creating an indirect image through a complex process. Moreover, paintings are unique products, which unlike video or photographs can rarely be experienced in writing.

In a communication based society, the way a painter transforms proliferated images to express his view appears as the antithesis of Guy Debord's Society of the spectacle. The latter gives the illusion to show the spectators the world as it is, whereas painting is implicably based on a deviation of objective images. However, one cannot deny the strong impact of cinematic and photographic images, whether media-related or private, on the painted image. Progressive recuperation of the clichés explores the challenge contemporary painters are confronted with, when it comes to recuperating and reinterpreting existing images. Nowadays in visual culture, imagery is everywhere - in cinema, popular journalism, medical imagery, and Internet exhibitionism. This globalisation of the visual, taken collectively, demands new means of interpretation.

Progressive recuperation of the clichés is neither about questioning whether painting is dead or alive - the fact that numerous artists are currently engaged with that medium speaks for itself - nor about hierarchising painting in comparison to other media. Its about how painters reclaim an image to explore the ambivalence and places of resistance in postmodern daily life.

This exhibition shows the work of five emerging talented painters (Pim Arends, Aurélien Dupuis, Céline Felga, Jan de Lauré, and Nicolas van Kerkhove) who are all recuperating media fragments, innocent stereotypes or a strong visual culture - whether referring to violence, innocence, nostalgia or cinematic clichés. All have in common the choice of using the slow process of painting (or in the case of Aurélien Dupuis, marker pens) to express something essential, beyond the banality of their subject.

Pim Arends

Pim Arends uses vivid coulours to lure the viewer towards tragic “current affairs” images, which form an incessant flow invading our daily life. Most often the viewer, used to quickly consume images does not even notice the subject matter of the picture and remain attracted by the bright cheerful colours.

Nicolas Van Kerckhove

Nicolas Van Kerckhove collects snapshots randomly picked on the internet, in newspapers and in flea markets without a predetermined idea. Distancing himself from any form of fascination for the media, he chose to base his work on anonymous amateur pictures that show the banal everyday violence, barely perceptible in our society. His intention is to show the unfair, negative, violent side of the world through the reinterpretation of images, which appear innocent at first sight.

Aurélien Dupuis

It is nothing new to Aurélien Dupuis that painters work from images that they recuperate, digest and reinterpret through their medium. By the choice of his subject (which he likes to repeat and repeat in large series), Aurélien emphasises the medium to push it to its paroxysm - so that the theme of the pictures vanish to the benefit of the medium. In this exhibition, two large scale 'paintings' - made with children's markers - from the series Enfant + Chien (Child + Dog) are presented. This repetitive act alludes to the Sisyphus myth, an infinite repetition of an act that makes it lose its meaning to the signified subject-matter.

Jan De Lauré

Jan de Lauré also “gleans” images in the mass-media, but unlike the other painters, he doesn not reinterpret the image through the paint medium, which does not bear any importance to him. He layers thin coats of paint in a very dexterous way in order to reproduce a photographic impression of the image to render the power of the image. Here he represents Maddy, the abducted child in a Warholian way to show how the overwhelming presence of this photograph in the media exhausted the disappearance of the little girl.

Celine Felga

Céline Felga bases her work on the recuperation of images ranging from media fragments, posters she finds on the streets, freeze frame of films or polaroids. However, Céline reinterprets them through her own “mise-en-scène”. She wants above all to recreate that first moment when the viewer discover an image. She seeks to trigger a new impact after having appropriated and digested them in order to put new life into it. This is a painting of a photo of a photo found at the Drouot auction house. It is a metaphor for the moving and nostalgic depiction of the vacuity of life.