Jan De Vliegher: New Works at Mike Weiss Gallery, New York

Belgian artist Jan De Vliegher shows new works at Mike Weiss Gallery in New York. It’s Jan De Vliegher’s second solo show with the gallery. This time the artist’s motif is the koi fish, their bright colors contrasting with the dark water. De Vliegher completes each canvas in one sitting, using several hundred paintbrushes and dozens of pre-mixed colors. In this video we attend the opening reception of the exhibition on November 22, 2013.

Jan De Vliegher: New Works at Mike Weiss Gallery, New York. Opening reception, November 22, 2013.

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From the press release:

Mike Weiss Gallery is pleased to present new works by Jan De Vliegher, the artist’s second solo show with the gallery. Layering rich hues of wet oil paint and working from the shoulder, De Vliegher takes an athletic approach to an otherwise banal nature scene, offering a series of large-scale canvases that contrast deep, murky waters with fluorescent patterned figures. In a meditation on mark-making, rhythm, and symphonic harmony, a world built on landscape and impressionism emerges, breathing new life into these time-honored genres while catalyzing a new approach to abstraction, repetition, and action painting.

In his first solo show, De Vliegher sourced prominent European museum collections to build out his own Treasury in the gallery space, lining porcelain plates of classical antiquity to speak to ritual, cultural anthropology, and notions of contemporary collecting. In this new body, we see the artist’s fascination with the painting experience continue through vigorous drip marks, surface-level imagery, and overpowering scale. Imbued with masterfully precise mathematical composition, the resulting structure resonates with distinctive cadence and conscious meter, and teems with a palpable energy. Like a documentary filmmaker, De Vliegher unravels a series of stills that live on via fluidity of stroke and vivid sense of movement, piecing together a self-contained environment that catalogs the passage of time, not unlike Monet’s infamous Haystacks.

To create each work, months of in situ research and photographic study culminate in a choreographic routine of several hundred paintbrushes and dozens of pre-mixed colors. Completed in one sitting with no room for error, the process draws upon the gestural history of abstract expressionism, splaying broad color fields into an all-over sea of pattern. Moving through the motif with ferocity and speed, the process feels cathartic and the result almost like an exorcism-a ritual continued ad nauseum in search of purity. As the combinations of shape and color intermingle canvas to canvas, seemingly without borders and extending beyond the painting’s edge, we find the same detuned subject matter as Warhol’s repeating car crashes, Marilyns, and Jackies. In the end, form dissolves into pure painterly abstraction, freed from meaning and liberated into the act of art-making alone.

The melodic remnants of mere hours of alla prima “wet-on-wet” application, De Vliegher’s process reflects more of a 6-hour opera than a laborious marathon-alternating “verse” and “chorus” until each piece resolves into harmony, leaving behind an echo of perfect unison as trace of life.

Jan De Vliegher lives and works in Bruges, Belgium. He has exhibited extensively in Europe including Knokke, Belgium; Venice, Italy; Stockholm, Sweden and Berlin, Germany. This is his second solo exhibition with Mike Weiss Gallery in NYC.

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