Fri. 6th Sep – Sat. 5th Oct. 2013
Opening reception: Friday. 6th Sep. 18:00 – 20:00h
nca | nichido contemporary art is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new works by Belgian artist, Jean-Luc Moerman.
Moerman entered the limelight with his wall paintings that utilize public spaces, and installations that cover the spaces of museums. Moerman’s seemingly fluid paintings created using diverse materials that defy conventions, swiftly respond to the subject and the environment, ceaselessly altering their appearance.
This exhibition will showcase paintings on aluminum and canvas, as well as tattoo-like drawings on posters of public personalities such as supermodels. The meticulously delineated graphics seem to offer a glimpse into the internal lives of those models and public personalities of symbolic beauty, hidden behind the illusions that they are subject to.
At the end of the 19th century, Maurice Denis stated that painting is “a flat surface covered with colors.” This assertion had significant influence on the later production of modern painting. This proposition, however, is clearly misguided. This is because painting is not a composite of color and a surface disregarding the subject matter, but rather a structure where a rigorous transformation rule is configured between one system and another. This is self-evident given the history of painting. Whether a painting is figurative or abstract, this structure is never fundamentally altered. By uniformly reducing pictorial expression to a visual phenomenon, Denis underestimated its unequivocal complexity. This not only prompted his paintings to attain a decorative end result, but also contributed to narrow the range of options available to modern painting.
The history of painting did indeed proceed to satisfy Denis’ speculations, but the painting’s robust structure was retained despite changes its form. This is the primary reason that the traditional medium of painting only progressed sluggishly in comparison to expressive forms in other media of the 20th century that underwent a drastic evolution. It is also part of the reason that painting was widely touted as having reached a dead-end in the latter half of the century. It is an undeniable fact however, that modern painting is generally understood as the transition from the figurative to the abstract, and that painting, being the archetypal medium for expression, established the mainstream. Even during this transition from figurative to abstract too, the structure peculiar to painting was consistently maintained. The same goes for post-modern painting which broke out of modern painting’s impasse: it had a self-referential structure where the system which paintings referred to was the aggregate of paintings in the past.
Jean-Luc Moerman made his appearance in the 21st century. His paintings vary from those painted on typical rectangular canvases, to more irregular ones drawn on walls and objects. Despite this diversity, his purpose remains essentially unaltered across the different types of works. His aim is to cover materials with fluid and rhizomatic imagery unique to him, in order to break down the hierarchy between the different subject matters that are covered and, to use his own expression, to pull them all back to the same level of a living organism. His works convey that whether it be a person in a historical painting, or celebrities, models and politicians who are icons of the contemporary times, they all are at the same position as any other men in relation to life and death.
What kind of structure, then, is incorporated into Moerman’s paintings? First, the signifiers composed of his unique lines, colors, and materials generate a rhizomatic image that is the signified. These are then joined with objects (such as bicycles, cars, robots, bags, etc.) and icons (historical paintings, photographs from fashion or news magazines, ukiyo-e prints, etc.) selected by him that are emblematic of the contemporary world. What forms a relationship of correspondence, as a referent, with the images that are etched onto the various paintings supports is the real world of the future. While covering the real world drawing lines that cause a riotous and repetitive proliferation of images, Moerman simultaneously attempts to liberate it, or in other words to establish an equality and freedom among the elements in the system.