Currently on at Galerie Perrotin in Paris, the painter and sculptor Pieter Vermeersch has brought forth an enigmatic and expressive exhibition to mark his sixth solo show with the dealer. Consisting of a series of conceptual operations, including a series of screenprints on marble slabs, oil paintings on stone, and a range of varied dimensional operations, the show is a striking exploration in scale and shape, material and space through the language of minimalism.
Mining the language of minimalist and formalist works from both the art historical and recent memory, Vermeersch’s work draws on a distinct sensel of playfulness and subversion, using photographic sources to twist the surface of his materials into a gray zone between painting, photography and materialist investigation. Presenting the canvas itself as an abstraction, his pieces here turn their surfaces into a space of uncertainty. Described by the artist as “accidental,” they are the products of multiple images and origins converging, creating a new site.
In these pieces, surfaces are illusory, abstraction is merely a pretext, presenting objects “as is.” Even when the canvas is “abstract,” it is paradoxically fabricated as a photorealistic painting, the photographic image being reproduced in it through a meticulous system of grids. The canvas only retains its format, leading it towards other media. In the marble silkscreen prints, “matter becomes image” in favor of an “industrialization of pointillism.” Vermeersch’s art is neither illustrative nor narrative: in short, art is its only crutch. His process often starts from the materials – for example, images of marble are silkscreened onto the marble and the image is enlarged to such an extent that each grid dot shows the support around it – and from the virtues and personal stories that the artist projects onto them.
The works, and even more so the exhibitions, translate into a physical experience of Vermeersch’s own aesthetic investigations, focused on time and space in a manner that reflects the gallery, and the show, as a product of these explorations. Turning the works as a whole towards a meditation on materiality, surface and construction, the artist’s work is a nuanced investigation of just how a work may be presented or understood under the current conditions of aesthetic practice.
The show closes January 30th, 2021.
– D. Creahan
Exhibition Site [Perrotin]