Abstracte kunst bestaat niet
(There Is No Such Thing as Abstract Art)
A text by Frank Maes
Some anecdote from the end of the 1980s. Canadian artist Royden Rabinowitch is preparing an exhibition in Museum Sztuki in Lodz, Poland. This institution, set up in 1930 by the artists Wladyslaw Strzeminski en Katarzyna Kobro, is known as the world’s very first museum of avant-garde art. Ryszard Stanislawski was its director from 1966 until 1992. At the time the latter enjoyed a strong reputation in the European and North-American art scenes. When Stanislawski uses the term “geometric abstract art”, Rabinowitch objects: “Mr Stanislawski, there is no such thing as geometric abstract art.” Rabinowitch does not hesitate to contradict museum directors or curators – which is not always appreciated. A somewhat uneasy silence follows. Then, Stanislawski, turning towards the artist, asks him: “How do you know that?”
In the group exhibition entitled Abstracte kunst bestaat niet (There Is No Such Thing as Abstract Art) Emergent will present art which is related to the many abstractions that govern our lives. At the same time, we are convinced that it is impossible to create an abstract piece of art.
In other words, this exhibition focuses on the tension between abstract and concrete, between the ‘here and now’ on the one hand, and the endless and eternal, abstract or general ‘everywhere and always’ on the other hand. In many exhibited works you will find both aspects – they contain references to the general, the abstract or universal, while their immediate, concrete relationship with the spectator and the surrounding space often testify of a manifestly tactile, material sensitivity.
There are, mainly, two points of departure for the selection of art works. Firstly, the relations some of these works have with the extraordinarily rich, but also very loaded history – lasting for more than a century now – of the so-called ‘abstract art’ in (Western) modern painting. Secondly, the relations some other works have with the abstractions that have increasingly flooded the globe in the past decades due to digitization, such as, e.g., in the world of global finance. It is fascinating to observe points of contact between both tracks, which, in some works, even seem to be entangled.
As we are longer involved with the preparations of this exhibition, the belief is gaining ground that this subject asks for a richly populated, broad and variegated approach. For the first time in Emergent’s existence we will use a second location, the 15th/16th century ‘Spanish Pavilion’ owned by the City of Veurne (Furnes).
No less than 25 artists are invited for this exhibition:
Katelijne Adriaensen; Franz Anaïs; Amélie Bouvier; Werner Cuvelier; Dieter Daemen; Frans De Medts; Vincent De Roder; Kamiel De Waal; Jerry Galle; Loek Grootjans; Nathalie Guilmot; Pepa Ivanova; Emi Kodama & Elias Heunynck; Rebekka Löffler; Annemie Maes; Rosa Menkman; Wesley Meuris; Jean Katambayi Mukendi; Hilde Overbergh; Royden Rabinowitch; Stéphanie Roland; Sigrid Tanghe; Ane Vester; Sarah Westphal; Michael John Whelan