Peter Rogiers

Year and place of birth: 1967, Antwerp, Belgium Location: Oud-Heverlee, Belgium

Peter Rogiers belongs to the generation of Belgian sculptors who emerged in the 1990s and pursued a new, eclectic and deconstructed kind of figuration. His contemporaries include, amongst others, Philip Aguirre Y Otegui, Johan Creten, Berlinde De Bruyckere and Johan Tahon. All artists who enter into a dialogue with the past and combine a sometimes classical-looking craftsmanship with a profound knowledge of visual culture and an idiosyncratic handling of tradition.

Rogiers initially followed a technical education and only later studied graphics in Brussels. His practical virtuosity underpins the creation of his sculptures, which he invariably makes by hand: something that is relatively exceptional in contemporary art. Rogiers lives in the countryside “to keep an essential distance from the art world”. Nor does he like to be surrounded by his own work, which he prefers to keep hidden in a storage facility.

The artist is fascinated by comics, which he also draws, and gravitates towards second-rate cultural-historical figures. “It’s interesting to take them to the next level. After all, you can’t improve on a Michelangelo or Velázquez”. Rogiers knows his art history inside out, and is particularly fond of masters such Velázquez, Rubens, Francis Bacon, Franz West, Philip Guston and Gary Panter.

Peter Rogiers’ often whimsical and bizarre sculptures are tricky to decode. They sit at the interface between abstraction, figuration and comic futurism. He always departs from the form. Only later do layers of meaning emerge. His works often refer to movement and speed, drawing inspiration from Italian Futurism and choreographies by Pina Bausch and William Forsythe, among others.

Rogiers garnered attention in 1995 with a sculpture that somewhat perversely referenced Edgar Degas’ famous ballet dancer. Not long afterwards, he applied a painterly approach to sculptures, which he constructed from a single viewpoint. In the late 1990s, in response to criticism, he side-stepped towards abstraction and made hanging sculptures, which he suspended from ceilings and walls. Rogiers’ oeuvre expanded yet further from 2000 onwards, both in terms of forms and materials. He began combining traditional and non-traditional sculptural components (e.g., bronze, polyurethane and aluminium) to create works in which intense solidity and weightlessness seem to converge. He regularly reworks the same themes, including the palm tree.

Rogiers’ artworks are all distinctly recognisable as his own but are incredibly diverse. This makes them hard to categorise in stylistic terms. Thanks to the eclectic way in which figurative sophistication and primary expression collide, he holds a unique place within Belgian contemporary sculpture to this day.

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