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How does a painting come into being? What is its prior history? What was its necessity? What is it that makes you paint it eventually? Is it a foundling, an orphan? Or does it have family, ancestors, parents, children?
At a certain moment, it emerges. It suddenly appears. It can get in the way, it can be hung, it can hang around. It is present and sometimes not.
Seen from the side it is not so thick – just a few centimetres – unlike the front side, which at best suggests an immensity. The back is like a dress with a bare back.
As an object, it is a lightweight. Something is suggested on the carrier, the canvas, the painted canvas, the painting. Or is it? Alberti writes: ‘Since painting strives to represent things, let us examine how things are seen.’
On it, I painted black plastic that reflects light. I wondered why on earth I had done that. Was there a reason, was it a coincidence? I had the impression that I had mainly not painted something. And this because of … Of what? What did I not want to paint? The absence?
Did I want to paint the invisible? Can you paint a thing that is not visible?
In the painting, you can sometimes see its physically past, traces of actions and touches of the brush and the paint that – loosely and together – tell a story.
The painting the Black Plastic only found its place at the end of the ride, in the Cabinet Devriendt, although it was both the starting point and the cause of the research. Sometimes a painting is a story that can be told backwards as if one were reading the story from beginning to end. Its ancestry also became my ancestry.
I was lucky because, through my ancestors, I could think ahead in reverse. You dig into your past and discover artefacts that are suddenly more relevant than anything you have seen and created so far. A future past.
My father told me that, through my research, he has rediscovered his father.
He saw something he had not seen before. Knowing is seeing, apparently. That is what the research is about, a curious longing mixed with an inquisitiveness that creates a clear view on something.
Being an artist is something that appears to have originated outside of the self, or before the self even thought of becoming or being an artist. Perhaps my grandfather became more of an artist and I have now become more of a doctor.
Examiners: Dr Annacatrina Piras, Thibaut Verhoeven Supervisors: Professor Leon van Schaik, Professor Martyn Hook