Pieter Vermeersch (°1973) is a painter, but his artistic practice takes him beyond the traditional boundaries of canvas. He questions and explores the parameters of painting and works on a variety of surfaces, such as canvas, marble, photographs, and existing architecture. Time, space and colour are the three building blocks of Vermeersch’s oeuvre. These concepts lie at the foundation of his gradual murals and architectural interventions.
The architectural context of the exhibition space determines Vermeersch’s selection of works and scenography for each new project. When he decided to venture beyond the borders of canvas, he soon ran up against a new border, namely that of architecture. This architectural context became like canvas to him, and is the surface on which he paints his murals.
These murals consist of gradual transitions of colour. Nothing betrays the labour intensive and rational process required to create them. Brick or cellular concrete walls form the backbone of the exhibition. The rudimentary character of these walls contrasts with the almost perfect execution of the murals and other works in the exhibition.
In his paintings on canvas, Vermeersch explores the relationship and the border between representation and abstraction. At M, he is juxtaposing the older series ‘8 paintings’ with a series of five new paintings made specifically for the exhibition space. Vermeersch based these autonomous canvasses on photos of unused, anonymous spaces that lack any concrete points of reference. The artist then rendered these in oil on canvas, making representation and abstraction blend into each other in the paintings.
Vermeersch has been fascinated by geology since he was a child. His works on marble use the stone itself as a canvas. In the artist’s eyes, marble has a cosmic dimension; the stone is the result of crystalized time, millions of years old and formed by coincidental events that we will never know. This enormous and ungraspable temporal dimension fascinates Vermeersch. By painting the marble, he actives the temporal dimension that the material holds within. He adds a moment, a new layer: that of the present.
In one of the exhibition rooms, Pieter Vermeersch engages in dialogue with ornaments from the M-Collection: traces of weathered, broken, and destroyed Leuven architecture. The pieces of rubble manifest the movement from nature to culture through artisanry, and they are now gradually returning to their former state as mere matter. In this exhibition, these pieces are juxtaposed with two new works.