Stan Van Steendam presents new work at Barbé Urbain Gallery

Barbé Urbain Gallery in Ghent is presenting a new solo exhibition by Belgian artist Stan Van Steendam, introducing new monochrome works, created by layering of dust, dirt, plaster and epoxy on wood.

Text by Domenico de Chirico

“To lead him by hope’s flowery ways To everlasting pastures sweet, Where perfect happiness doth meet And soar above poor mortal praise, Where in hushed twilight doth abide The earthly glory that hath died.”

- Alessandro Manzoni, Il cinque maggio, ode, 182, English translation ​

Traveling along uncontaminated paths in a natural background, through hot dry desert landscapes, coming across narrow, impervious, hidden and secret paths, traced by the perpetual flow of men and animals: this is the origin of the essence of Down the trail, by Stan Van Steendam (1985), the Belgian artist’s second solo exhibition in the gallery.

According to this perceptual experience, which is characterized by a powerful meditative dimension, we often find ourselves in the condition of having to select the stimuli at which we pay attention. This process can only take place if we use the different sensory inputs available to us (such as the auditory, visual, etc.), in relation to the different sensory features typical of the stimulus, namely: position, colour, shape, transparency, shade, segment and so forth.

Stan Van Steendam’s enigmatic, iconic and visceral work challenges all our ideas, all the established notions of both tradition and modernity. The results are delicate sculptural virtuosity and gentle monochromatic investigations. His work, of an intuitive nature, aims to deconstruct the materiality of painting that he explores through an extensive process of layering raw pigments, plaster and epoxy resin on wood in addition to other materials such as ash, dirt and dust. It creates a new idea of the pictorial tradition, which definitely enables new perceptual experiences. All these materials lend a liberating approach to his practice as they themselves arbitrarily choose a self-moulding direction of both form and colour variation. Down the trail emphasizes a broader concept of the sculptural work, moving towards an idea of total experience.

Van Steendam currently lives between Brussels and Lisbon. Lisbon has particularly influenced his work over the last two years, especially because of the dystopian and desert-like atmosphere of the industrial area where he lives, called Barreiro.

His minimalist compositions are highly intuitive, material and tactile, reflecting a propensity for meditation that certainly requires a state of absolute calm. Enormous monochromatic, iridescent, luminous and vibrant paintings, extending into space, question, as already mentioned, the definitions of all traditional categories. Since

Van Steendam’s research is based on the material construction of the surface, it has to be understood as a process that is both physical and meditative, in which the only creative instrument used by the artist himself is his bare hands. Moreover, the resulting tumultuous perception, in perfect balance between mystery and ambiguity, continues to change according to the reflection of both light and cerulean skies on the same material surface.

In this latest cycle of works, through thorough recuperation activities, the materials unquestionably constitute that primary path which constantly insinuates itself into the creative process, passing with agility from one painting to another, establishing its true essence. Through our senses and the perceptive experiences that the senses trigger in us, we can hopefully become aware of the world that surrounds us to the extent that we are able to understand its fundamental aspects. The perceptual experience in which Van Steendam invites us to participate is intended as a primary source of knowledge of the world, which is interpreted as an environment. It is a phenomenon that is as familiar from the point of view of our immediate consciousness as it is enigmatic from the point of view of reflection on the transcendental.

Stan Van Steendam ​
down the trail
05.02 — 13.03.2022 ​
Barbé-Urbain Gallery ​
Penitentenstraat 29, 9000 Gent

Selection of images


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