center for contemporary non-objective art

Details Exposed @ McBride Fine Art September 2008

Under the umbrella title Details Exposed, McBride Fine Art is pleased to present two solo exhibitions by Brussels-based German artist Tilman and Belgian artist Ward Denys. The exhibitions are curated by Petra Bungert in cooperation with CCNOA Brussels and comprise new photographic works as well as site-specific installations by both artists. Details Exposed is a continuation of the curator’s aim to provide an insight into the spectrum of artistic expression practised by individual artists and to shed light on the reciprocal transfer between them. The current project investigates how two contemporary artists draw on the constituent elements of their primarily non-representational practice – light, color, space, surface, time, memory and being – by incorporating the medium of photography into site-specific installations.

Both Tilman and Ward Denys work on the borderline between disciplines and share a special concern with the sensuality of perception as well as with the relationships between the viewer, architecture and the visual arts.

Underlying Tilman’s specific interest in combining photographic work and the `constructed` and `painted` object is the idea of exposing different modes of perception to enhance comprehension of the existing visual object. Familiar with the medium of photography since his early activities as an artist and clearly influenced by the aesthetics taught at the Bauhaus, he was keen to explore the constituent elements of his current practice – light, color, and structure – through purely photographic means. Soon he understood that using a camera implied working with an image made from light rather than setting up an encounter with it, in other words looking for a physical interaction with the essence of light. Driven by the idea of light per se and the different ways of perceiving it, he abandoned the thought of photography as a means of expression and turned to painting to further explore and research the physical quality of light. It was years later that he rediscovered the medium of photography. Two large in situ works E-472-BXL (CCNOA, Brussels, 2004) and N-802-B-Oslo (Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, 2006), both projects conceived as a platform for a dialogue on perception, called again for photography to come into play. Tilman came to understand that exploring the details of given objects is an integral part of a more complete comprehension of the individual works and of the essential ideas surrounding his oeuvre as a whole. In the process he also came to realize that in the overwhelming overall experience of these ‘constructions’ the actual details of the various elements were completely overlooked. In both installations short video-clips shot within the transformed space were presented with the aim of adding another dimension to the all-over experience. This newly imposed visual sensation and the way it impacted on his own perception led him to make photographic detail shots of the various elements involved, manifesting the interactive play of shadows and lines.

The art of Ward Denys covers a wide field of media: sculpture, installation, photography and architecture. Through the cross-sectioning of visual arts and architecture, Denys transcends the boundaries of the functional and the dysfunctional, of inside and outside, of surface and depth. His installations, posited with a minimalist rigor, respond to architectural givens, in compliance with and vis-à-vis; they create as much rhythm as counter rhythm, producing physical disorientation through their mirroring effects. Denys’s works then, built out of plywood and cardboard, manifest themselves as unsettling fragments of architecture, simultaneously taking the status of propositions towards further execution and integration, and of remnants, parts of the construction process that were never fully realized. His art adheres explicitly to this position in the past and in the future – making his work an issue to be dealt with in the present. In recent years, the artist has explored this logic through the singularity of each of his installation works. Emblematic of the artist’s recent preoccupations, the installation works signal a turn from his earlier more sculpture- and object-oriented work. But it seems little more than a formal break: as his early series of rescaled houses and generic landscapes hover between abstraction and functionalism, they have laid out the basic scheme for Denys’s whole body of work, a body of work in which responses become residual and fragments are suitable to be built upon. (Bjorn Scherlippe) Denys’s photographic work is a type of archiving of his `site-specific’ installation work and the inspiration for it. Pictures of details of and fragments from his work result in minimal and sometimes abstract photographs. Denys also makes pictures of architectural locations, environments, moments and events, further inspiration for the installations.


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Ward Denys