COLLECTION | Sol LeWitt - Cabinet 6: Ann Veronica Janssens | 31.10.2015... 14.02.2016


The artworks in this focus exhibition were selected by Ann Veronica Janssens to accompany Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing No.36. The main themes of the works Janssens chose from the S.M.A.K. collection are form, light and movement.

The oeuvre of François Morellet (France, 1926) displays links with the Kinetic Art of the 1960s, which took a purely abstract approach to the dynamism of the modern age. Movement became an aim in itself: objects either moved (driven by a motor, powered by the wind, etc.) or could be set in motion by the viewer. This kinetic sculpture consists of two aluminium grids that are slowly moved by means of thin bicycle chains. The metal structures change form and position in relation to each other. The composition of the work is literally dynamic.

Movement is also important in the work of Ann Veronica Janssens. Her aim is to use it to depict the elasticity of reality. But whereas this work by Morellet moves of its own accord, in Janssens’ work the (optical) movement is generated as you walk past it (e.g. Magic Mirrors) or let your gaze wander over it (e.g. Untitled (blue glitters)). Janssens makes full use of the fact that you walk around in the exhibition space, and thereby take up different positions with regard to the works, to offer you a dynamic experience of her work.

This work in stainless steel and neon lights is not typical of the oeuvre of the Belgian artist Guy Mees (1935-2003). It is an unusually rigid work for him and only distantly related to the rectangular pink and pale-blue lightboxes with frivolous lace stretched over them that make up the series of works called Verloren ruimte (Lost Space) (1960-1966). In Mees’ mind, the space that is ‘lost’ is that of the painting. He wanted to break painting open, and question and investigate it.

Mees’ works assume a wide range of forms, including painting, sculpture, paper reliefs, installations and films. However varied they may be, they always contain references to painting. Using such means as colour, plane, line, frame and depth, he explored the boundaries of painting: how far can you go within the medium of painting and where are the borders between painting and other disciplines?

This painting by René Daniels (Netherlands, 1950) fascinates Ann Veronica Janssens by the way it plays with space and light, foreground and background, inside and outside. It remains a mystery how the space in the painting is to be interpreted. You can look through the black hole towards the imaginary space that seems to be behind it. In this case the painting acts as a window. But the painted area might also be emerging from the black hole. Janssens, who originally wanted to become an architect, has always been fascinated by the way light and space relate to each other.

Exhibition spaces are often the subject of Daniels’ paintings. The recurring motif is a perspective rendering of three walls with squares on them that can be interpreted either as monochrome paintings with no subject or as windows. In this work, the space has been partly covered with a coat of black paint. Such opposing pairs as inside and outside, foreground and background and day and night are united in a single image. Daniels himself refers to the interplay between making something visible and obscuring it: “Every disclosure of a secret serves as the concealment of another secret.” Is a painting a depiction of what we see? Or does it reflect what we think?

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