26 January, 2017 - 11 March, 2017
Tim Van Laere Gallery is pleased to present its fifth solo exhibition of Henk Visch.
In Visch’s awareness there is both joy and pain. It contains raw material to play with and, even more, to work with so as to embody and stage, in a way that is familiar and secret, harrowing and full of leaps, some “truths” about our sexuality, our desires and our terrors, our arabesques and our collective gesticulations, our constant approximations, or, in short, our tribulations in space with the body as the vehicle: real bodies, invented bodies, those of known and utopian reigns.
These presentations and representations reveal our behaviors in the face of reality that we cannot grasp but are incapable of forgetting. This is why Visch, like Robert Gober, Kiki Smith and Berlinde De Bruyckere, opts for the game mode to construct his universe and forms. The game is disturbing, tragic, cognitive, staged and theatrical, but in representing the relationship between the body and the real, the chosen mode is always that of play rather than that of masterful discourse. These figures are the objects of all of our fantasies as they confront the void and time.
This is how it is with Visch’s contemporaries, just as it is with his peers like the draughtsman André Masson and René Magritte, especially in the painting Catherine Millet pointed out to me, Entr’acte, where le jeu, playing in the sense an actor playing a character, or playing in the sense of a game (for instance, a puzzle game comprised of fragments and dismemberments), makes it possible for the artist to make these recomposed anatomies, these “monstrous bodies”, simultaneously endearing and terrifying, dance. Because they are unknown, unspeakable, figures from a phantasmal merry-go-round, they are the designated messengers, the incarnated angels that guide us to leave the stage as downstage the red curtain opens on another, stormy, disconcerting landscape presided over by a mysterious sculpture, a disquieting structure, at once Tower of Babel and Magic Mountain. This landscape is that of Visch’s sculpture. He is a sculptor who rather than illustrate ideas creates first a shape and then shapes and their interconnections in order to bestow an upsetting new life on the territories they inhabit, be these galleries, exhibitions halls or parks. In his work, the sculptures are never figures of reality. We can’t really say, “This is a sexual scene”, “This is death”, “This is hysteria or reverential contemplation”, or even, all evidence to the contrary, “This is a leg”. That’s not the question.
As Visch explains, “A figurative sculpture doesn’t need to be realistic, but it will convey a packet of information. It won’t speak about the person represented, for example, but about feelings, So for me, a figurative sculpture should be very abstract.” On the same subject he wrote, “My figures are a reminiscence of the body and the figures make the body a thought object, so that I can travel through a mental space that is an echo of my experiences. A mental space, an interior space, analogies of real space.
Thus Visch’s starting point is the experience of bodies, sympathy, the empathy between the senses, their connections and porosities. This state is the starting point in his search for his forms, using all the necessary materials, wire like Calder, concrete like Genzken, bronze like Miro, and synthesis fur and pearls like Meret Oppenheim. These experiments produce forms and spaces instead of objects and images. these spaces are cosmogonies for bodies - the spaces of the real, the bedroom and the street. They ceaselessly swap positions, interpenetrate and conjoin to invent places where the sculptures produce meaning, just as their placement and displacement in these places gives the sculptures meaning. Thus they create intrigue, theater and the metamorphoses of the spectator into an actor. They go back and forth between interior and exterior worlds , solitude and multitude, wounds and caresses, sleeping and waking.