De / Construction


We are used to thinking of the painting as a surface on which the artist paints. Sarah and Stan, on the contrary, see it as an object that works in different spatial dimensions. Both artists question this traditional concept, pushing beyond its limits.

However, their approach is antithetical, and the concept of the exhibition is based on this contrast: Deconstruction for Sarah Loibl vs Construction for Stan Van Steendam.

Sarah Loibl replaces the canvas with transparent veil-like fabrics and physically deconstructs the painting into multiple layers. In fact, the work results from the superimposition of single transparent veils, on which she paints by breaking down the final image into different planes. The multiple layers that make up the painting are sometimes mounted on a single aluminum frame, and sometimes the artist mounts them individually and superimposes the frames themselves.

The work thus acquires its own spatial depth, while also interacting with the space in which it is installed. In fact, shadows are created on the wall where the color fills the porosity of the gauze and does not let the light through, reproducing an imprint of the work on the wall. Interacting with the light and the movement of the viewer, Sarah’s work has an intrinsic dynamic and mutable character depending on the point of observation. Her strength lies in the contrast between the ephemeral materiality of the transparent veils and the physical interaction with the environment and with the spectator’s corporeality.

In contrast to Sarah’s deconstructive approach, Stan Van Steendam constructs massive monochrome works that the artist calls ‘painting’ rather than ‘sculptures’, questioning the definitions of these traditional categories. His interest indeed is not in shaping a form, like a sculptor does. The form is given by the wooden support, which is the base and the starting point. Stan’s research is rather based on the material construction of the surface, a process that is both physical and meditative for the artist who applies multiple layers of dust, pigment, ash and plaster mixtures with his own hands. His hands become the only tool.

In spite of this constructive and massive approach opposite to Sarah’s, the work presents curious affinities of result: Stan’s changeable monochromes also have a physical presence that leaves the wall and extends into space, inviting the viewer to interact with them while working on different levels of perception, visual and tactile. A perception that keep changing depending on the reflection of light on the material surface and on the viewer’s point of observation.

Van Steendam’s monochrome surfaces also want to interact with the emotional and psychological aspect of the viewer. The total abstraction sought by the artist also in the titles wants to give the viewer a neutral and empty space in which to immerse himself, a metaphysical place where to find himself with his own emotions. The colors, however, do not have specific meanings and also seek to be abstracted, if that’s possible. The artist exercises control only over the choice of a light rather than dark palettes, and then lets himself be guided unconsciously by the materials he uses.