“When I think of art I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not just in the eye. It is in the mind. It is our positive response to life.”
- Agnes Martin
“To be immersed in colour. That is the experience proposed by Pieter Vermeersch”, points out French curator François Piron (1). And it is, indeed, an experience of complete immersion what the Flemish painter’s work offers. Either through mural paintings but also in his works on canvas, or other surfaces, Vermeersch manages to elicit a powerful relationship between the work and the viewer.
Vermeersch is best known for his “colour-graded” paintings which are the result of blending a large number of colours in such a perfectly uniform and smooth finish that the separation from one colour to the next, can no longer be perceived, it disappears. The melding of the multiple tonalities creates a blurred effect in a sort of infinitude.
This is definitely what one experiences in front of the main work at ProjecteSD’s current exhibition: a large scale painting on canvas in seven parts, that can be described in a chromatic scale from dark to light between greyish, blueish or purple colours fading into yellow or whitish tones. The quality, the monumentality and the spatial dimension of the painting, attaching perfectly to the architecture of the room, makes its chromatic path take on an additional dimension. Thus, the initial perception of colour becomes not simply visual, but spatial and temporal as well.
In contrast to this large, expanded painterly work, Vermeersch completes the exhibition with four new small works on petrified wood. To these stones, found surfaces with their own high level of pictorial composition, the artist adds an image, or better, a part of an image. If in earlier works Vermeersch has used marble or other types of natural stones to simply add touches of paint in a quite reductive gesture, what he does now is more complex. The process implies screen-printing on the raw stone a photograph of itself turned into a grid of dots. The result is a blurred picture, or, we can still call it a painting, where the natural quality of the surface is, paradoxically, in tune with the screen-printing ink. By printing on the stone, Vermeersch activates its temporal dimension and adds a new layer, that of the present.
Colour fading into light and then into space. Matter becoming image. Vermeersch’s work and his exhibitions translate into a unique physical experience that cannot be encoded in any discourse.
(1)To Be Immersed in Colour. François Piron in Variations, Ludion Publishers, 2019
Pieter Vermeersch (*Kortrijk, Belgium, 1973, lives and works in Turin, Italy).
A laureate of the HISK, Antwerp in 1999-2001, he was recipient of Jonge Belgische Schilderkunst (Young Belgian Painting Prize) in 2007. Pieter Vermeersch has produced exhibitions and site-specific installations at SMAK, Ghent; MUHKA, Antwerpen; Programa Art Center, Mexico City; STUK, Leuven; BOZAR, Brussels; Be PART Platform for aktuelle kunst, Waregem, Belgium; London Newcastle Project Space, London, UK; Casino Luxembourg; White Box, New York, and the Provinciaal Museum voor Moderne Kunst (PMMK) in Oostende, Belgium, to mention a few. His work was featured in Expanded Painting Prague Biennial 2 (2005), the first Brussels Biennial 2008, in London at the South London Gallery’s (2009) and at Urdabaiarte (2012) in the Basque Country, Spain. His work was presented at the Blueproject Fundation in Barcelona (2016). In 2019 he had a prominent survey exhibition at the Museum in Leuven, Belgium and a solo exhibition at NC-arte, Bogota, Colombia.
The publication Variations provides a complete overview of Vermeersch’s oeuvre Designed by Mevis & van Deursen, edited by Moritz Küng, with texts by François Piron, Kersten Geers and Dieter Roelstraete. Available at ProjecteSD.