Paper cuts

Jun 28 - Aug 26, 2023
Keteleer Gallery is very pleased to present Paper Cuts, a group exhibition focusing on works on paper by 11 artists. To emphasize both the fascinating potentials of working on paper and the different ways artists use this medium to express their themes, Paper Cuts presents works by artist from the gallery: Leo Copers, Enrique Marty, Bjarne Melgaard, Benjamin Moravec and Koen Theys and invited artists: Keren Cytter, Femmy Otten, Clara Spilliaert, Elly Strik, Joris Van de Moortel and Shafei Xia.
Press release
With Paper Cuts, Keteleer Gallery endorses the prominent place works on paper have recently acquired in the art world. Today, compared to how works on paper were considered inferior to painting, sculpture or installation in the past, the medium is being recognized more and more as being valuable and worthy in itself. The diversity of techniques, styles and approaches that can be used on paper is limitless and offers artists the opportunity to express their artistic process in a myriad of ways.
A distinctive aspect of working on paper is the directness and intimacy it can offer. Drawings and watercolours, for instance, are often regarded as a reflection of the artist’s inner landscape in which emotions and ideas are expressed in an immediate and unfiltered way. The paper sometimes even captures traces of the creative process: scratches, tears and stains that give each work a unique character. These qualities make it possible for works on paper to touch viewers in a way that no other medium can.
Another advantage to working on paper is the freedom it offers. Since working on paper is relatively cheap, it is by nature lively and experimental. Paper offers the opportunity to work with a wide variety of materials and techniques, enabling artists to express their ideas in a spontaneous and uncompromising way.
Paper Cuts refers to the technique of cutting paper to create shapes, but even more so to the inherent duality of the medium and its potentially transformative power. The Paper Cuts exhibition chooses specific works of which the pictorial solutions are most convincing in terms of ambiguity, destruction and subversiveness. The exhibited works, with references to themes like desire, alienation, physicality and sexuality, are often simultaneously powerful and soft, nonchalant and obsessive. Just like a barely visible paper cut can be very painful, the exhibited works on paper can appear subtle while cutting very deep by having a substantial visual and emotional impact.
Since the ‘60s, Leo Copers (°1947. Lives and works in Wetteren, BE) has been building a rich and varied oeuvre of sculptural works, installations, drawings and performances. Recurring themes like danger, threat and tension characterise his works that are always critical, sometimes ironic and usually contain a social, political and cultural undertone.
Enrique Marty’s (°1969. Lives and works in Valladolid and Salamanca, SP) oeuvre reads like an exploration of the human soul. Marty captures what people do and how they behave, and in doing so, he sometimes discovers a hidden layer of cruelty or ridiculousness in everyday situations. Other times the artist uses fictional scenes mixed with obscene, surreal or humoristic imagination. The series of watercolours Empty Rooms illustrates the at times dark human obsession with power and lust in a very explicit way.
Bjarne Melgaard (°1967. Lives and works in Oslo, NO) often shows marginal and subcultural phenomena in a Neo-Expressionistic way in order to evoke provocative and critical questions about society. He explores the dark sides of humanity like self-destructive tendencies, deviating sexuality or marginal religious convictions while pushing the boundaries of acceptability. His distinct iconography is influenced by Norwegian mythology as much as by popular culture.
Despite living in a world engulfed by a continuously growing flux of images, Benjamin Moravec (°1977. Lives and works in Nürnberg, DE) has unwavering faith in the value of painting. Moravec uses different painting techniques to pose questions about our current image culture. His sketchy and at times even rough drawings of palm trees and birds are notably different from his virtuously painted canvases.
Koen Theys (°1963. Lives and works in Brussels, BE) takes many paths as an artist. In both his videos, sculptures and works on paper, Theys often works with icons of (Western) culture and imbues his work with references to political, economical and artistic history. With his ambiguous images that can be both abstract and concrete, he critically explores the position of art in an artistic and societal context.
Keren Cytter (°1977. Lives and works in NY and Münster, DE) is known for her experimental video works about social and cultural communication codes. Her work dramatizes today’s new normal which is dominated by social media and internet and which is characterised by a polished presence and a state of permanent networking leading to the crumbling of clear boundaries between the private and the public sphere. With their deceptively homely style, her drawings oscillate between familiarity and alienation.
Femmy Otten’s (°1981. Lives and works in Den Haag, NL) drawings, paintings and sculptures always display a deep sense of humanity. The portrayed bodies appear fragile and intimate but are simultaneously direct and unabashed. Her drawings highlight both the lovely and the violent sides of love. Recognisable references to Classical Antiquity and Flemish Primitives are combined to form a completely unique symbolism and iconography in which classical and current influences melt together.
After having drawn intimate journals for a few years, Clara Spilliaert (°1993. Lives and works in Ghent, BE) started exploring different media like video, animation, murals and ceramics. Her Japanese/Belgian decent is at the core of her fascination with history and symbols that form individual and collective cultural identities. Within her artistic universe, she explores the body, dreams, visions and the human relationship with nature through the use of metaphors and images that are as lyrical and delicate as they are audacious and shameless.
Elly Strik (°1961. Lives and works in Brussels, BE) is specialised in making works on paper, mostly executed with materials like graphite, pigment and oil paint but also with ashes from her woodburning stove and silver and gold leaf to reach a precise alchemical balance. A fascination for the creative process and a thorough quest for the essence of man results in an imagery that is both poetic and radical. Her topics are chosen to result in a confronting play of attraction and rejection, of refinement and vigour.
As a painter, draughtsman, sculptor, musician and performer, Joris Van de Moortel (°193. Lives and works in Hoboken, BE) explores deconstruction as a generative creative process. Inspired by movements like punk rock, Dadaism and Fluxus but also by the ominous iconography of Northern Renaissance, formal excess an carnal corporeality of the Baroque or the allegorical decadence of Symbolism, Van de Moortel creates a raw, dystopic imagery steeped in mysticism and symbolism.
The work of Chinese artist Shafei Xia (°1989. Lives and works in Bologna, IT) is irreverent, amusing, brash, erotic. Her watercolours on sandal wood paper on canvas portray sexual desire, craving, jealousy and violence. Her work is sometimes symbolic, sometimes explicit, but it always retains a delicate and refined character reminiscent of Japanese Shunga or Chinese erotic paintings of the 19th century.
Koen Leemans, 2023.
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