The White House Gallery

The White House Gallery in Lovenjoel - Belgium

Last friday was the last official school day of this season’s art school. On this wonderful summer afternoon, we went for an excursion to the exhibition of the work of Greet Van Autgaerden, in the White House Gallery.

The white villa used to be part of the complex “Groot Park”, initially a holiday property of the family de Spoelberch , one of the richest families of Belgium, and currently main shareholder of the InBev brewery imperium.

Maximiliaan de Spoelberch had a passion for dendrology (the scientific study of trees) — everybody needs a hobby — and create on the site one of the most unique collections of exotic trees in Europe.

In 1915, the land and property was gifted to KUL (University of Leuven), who rented it to the “Sisters of Love” in 1926, who set up a psychiatric hospital for women “Salve Mater”.

End of the 90’ies most hospital units were integrated into the University Hospital of Leuven. These days, real estate developers are transforming the main buildings into luxury apartments.

The white villa, was the residence of the Sisters of Love, and it was sold together with 11 hectacres of land to the current owners of the White House, who completely restored it and created a fantastic art gallery (RSVP only).

Point of View #10 - Greet Van Autgaerden - Oil/Canvas - 200*130cm - 2016

I was not only baffled by the great artwork of Greet Van Autgaerden — exposed over four different floors — but also by the stillness of the building, the great care of the restoration, and the hospitality of the owners Bert & Elly.

The title of the expo was “Point of View” as most of the works from Greet Van Autgaerden are landscapes. There was a great welcome-text by Hans Martens describing her work (abstract below):

Greet Van Autgaerden knows that a good painting is always kind of an ambush, and she enjoys luring us, as viewers, into her trap. I cannot shake off the impression that she too perceives the canvas as a “battlefield”, an arena in which she wrestles with the demons of painting — not in a romantic, tormented way, but in one that is analytical and acute, and which takes careful account of the various possibilities of an image. It reminds me more of the British approach, as exemplified by Constable, than the Germanic Sturm und Drang.

The visit made me reflect about what i want, in the true artistic creative-orientation sense, not in the BAU daily reactive/responsive tactics on how to solve a particular problem, which more and more drives us collectively into a solutionalist society, with superficial contacts and interventions, never even coming close to deep and inspired work.

In the middle of these first world reflections, I bumped into this wonderful object:

Christoph Fink, The Montreal Walks (12 254,94 km, 195 h 30’51"), space and time disc, 2008. Ceramics, diameter 47cm.

+++ text by Joëlle Tuerlinckx — artist +++

While journeying by foot, bike and aeroplane, Christoph Fink gathers and transforms precise data through a unique notation system, and his clay and ceramic discs spring from this process. This study is sustained by research into the different periods of earth’s evolution, its ecosystem and geography as shaped by the political. It leads to a representation of the globe, or, more precisely, a representation of the globe’s space-time (the central void embodies space-time to come). The clay ball is fashioned according to detailed calculations, and engraved with ‘moments of knowledge’. I’m amazed by the way Fink manages to convey his vast research and his exceptionally rich understanding of the world with such minimal means. Like me, he’s fascinated by the complexity of reality, in which he finds beauty and rebellion.

Fink’s works defy categorisation, they stand somewhere between cartography, music, sculpture, drawing, and evoke a time where painter and geographer were one and the same person (the geographer’s job was still be invented). The amount of work that forms the basis of his practice is truly admirable, because so rare today. His numerous studies, sketches, researches and notations demonstrate a total commitment, every day renewed, and miles away from the art world system, with its fairs, galleries, museums … Fink builds his own vision of the world, one which is radically ethical, political, poetical, and directed only towards more freedom. This artist was for me an obvious choice because of his ethics, so urgently needed. May they inspire many others to find and further their own artistic journeys.

+++ text by Joëlle Tuerlinckx — artist +++

I found many more images of Christoph Fink’s work by a simple google search. If you do so as well, you will find many field notations like the one below.

Christoph Fink notations of a field trip

I love the concept of “field notations”, and never realised you could push the concept so far and in so much detail. And it is not about the destination, but the journey itself. Also labelled “trajectories” by Kevin Kelly in his latest book “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future”, when describing “Protopia”, the mild process and progress, as opposed to Utopia and Dystopia.

It also made me think of a quote by Kristien van Looveren from 2009 (seen at the expo about architect Christian Kieckens, i just got in the last day last week in De Singel in Antwerp):

The works of Greet Van Autgaerden, Christoph Flink, Kevin Kelly, and my teacher Ann Grillet are ongoing inspirations in my quest for purpose and what i will do next.

Compared to those masters, I am such a newbie. Which also gives me the right and freedom to not knowing the norms, and therefor not even knowing how to respect them. That’s of course a false excuse for having a year-end academy scratch book, that not even gets close to any of the beauty I could witness this week-end.

My scratch-book with "extensions" at the end of the first academy painting

Originally published at petervan.wordpress.com on June 12, 2016.