Bert De Geyter (1984, Ghent, BE)
Artist living and working in Ghent, BE.
“It is playing with the children in me, albeit on a very deep level, but it is and continues to be playing”
Bert De Geyter's art practice sprang from an identifiable moment of colossal loss that triggered an all-encompassing loving insight. Since then, the artist has grasped the essence, the wisdom of loss and letting go that the butterfly children brought. It is not escapism but embracing the brutal reality. It is the beauty of radical acceptance. Each work is a memento mori, celebrating the death that the Western world so anxiously hides from view, as an ode to life. Honoring the all-binding force, the universal source of impermanence and resurrection.
From the loss was the smiling epicurean born. Humor and language are important themes in the work. Fucking Adorable (2021) and Look into my Eyes (2021) treat text as form and connect with the conceptual power of the word paintings by artist Christopher Wool and the psychoanalytic self-references of Joseph Kosuth. The title of the series I have been a bad place, today I am a Paradise (any paradise exists only by the grace of its scars) also portrays the love for poetry and wink at an Instagram world of inspirational quotes, self-development and likes. The graphic background of the artist gives him the confidence to work with archetypes such as the paradise referential palm tree and the symbolism of a rainbow (baby). Like Ed Ruscha, the artist does not shy away from illustrative influences and uses them at the same time as a joke. For example, the spiral of circles is a reference to “the map of a rainbow”.
The materials used and the gestures are those of a passionate draftsman. The color palette is black and white in all its nuances and gradations, referring to all colors. It can also be the contour of a memory or the shadow of a vision. The making process is intuitive. The first step is to build a canvas like a nest or camp for the star children. The works of art are constructed using techniques that are closer to the working method of a sculptor than a painter. The subsequent letters and shapes are sculpted layer by layer, which gives the artworks their transparency. As with action painting, this process leaves traces of the action. “There is always something left behind,” says the artist.
The physical act is important and repetitive. In this ritual event, not a single step can be forgotten. The repetition of certain shapes such as the circle, palm tree and letters draws on this ritual power. They become almost abstract studies that go straight to the essence. A story of a tribe was created with shelters and phenomena to create a framework. But the intuitive, almost meditative way of working, akin to Eastern painters such as Ufan Lee, continuously clashes with the artist's urge to label and archive. The anecdotal disappears and the story is translated/told by the way of making, as a spontaneous religion and synthesis.
“It is playing with the children in me, albeit on a very deep level, but it is and continues to be playing”, the artist says.
Text by Femke Vandenbosch
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