Sebastien Pauwels & Dimitri van Grunderbeek
The exhibition Rencontre(s) is like a first meeting, a first acquaintance of two artists and their work in Valerie Traan gallery. Sebastien Pauwels and Dimitri van Grunderbeek got to know each other when Veerle Wenes brought them together. It soon became clear that both have a lot to say to each other and apparently also share a common ground: a mutual interest in cut-offs and alignments, for example, but certainly in playing with second and third dimensions, developing autonomous forms 'en cours de route' and moving between the flat surface and the sculptural volume.In his Form Studies with Plaster Casts, Dimitri van Grunderbeek playfully and consistently explores the potential of a formal language that moves between a wood print and a plaster tile. In small and larger formats, it is a series that grows and dialogues with questions of positive and negative space, of surface and materiality. Fragments of furniture, a table with four legs, a badminton net, or the floor plan of his studio, are abstracted, reduced and cut out. Sketches appear as drawings with traces of scratches and pieces of fiber on plaster casts and sawn-out boards. They become sculptural entities, free forms that abandon functionality and spatial interventions that explore the limits of his artistic thinking.
In his sculptures, Sebastien Pauwels seems to work in an almost painterly manner. As soon as volumes are created, his brushstroke takes an essential place and explores notions of vertical and horizontal movements, texture, and color. Linear patterns and gentle curves appear both on the bas-reliefs on the wall and on the anthropomorphic forms in the middle of the room. The structures are composed of several layers of fiberglass on pieces of cardboard with a coating that caresses the surface. The traces of the creation process remain visible on the sculptural skin with small drippings, tactile folds and cracks, pedestals that become part of the work and at the same time serve as supports. Each step is visible as if to reinforce the passage of time, of reflection and completion. These three-dimensional hollow forms tempt us to see them from two points: a front and side view in two directions rather than the intention of the all around-principle. They are fragile silhouettes, composite objects that seem to become human figures, with names such as Franz, Eva, Victoria or Edgard referring to near and distant relatives or sculptors from art history. They are idols, directly cut out of cardboard and playfully and quickly joined together "à taille de la main". Some stand upright like a totem and others seek out the tension between gravity and resistance. They are simple artistic gestures, in which each sculpture can be observed in one shot. Experiments with an inviting freedom.
With Dimitri van Grunderbeek, the act of happening appears not only in the tracing drawings on the wall, but also in the collage of undulating mirrors and wooden cut-outs. He shows time and spatiality, depth, and perspective in one gesture, and new designs emerge during the painting, dipping, stacking or folding process. Also his vertical figures come precisely to life and form sculptural assemblages with iron wire, racks, clothes hangers. Composition, framing, and precision are the anchor points for articulating the material qualities of collected fragments of chairs or translucent bottles in boxes. They enable a poetic reading of ordinary objects. They open connections and show what could not yet be seen.
With the work of Sebastien Pauwels and Dimitri van Grunderbeek, the exhibition Rencontre(s) brings together several essential points, in which the craftsmanship of the making, the artistic gesture of the imagining and the memories of sculpture come together. Both artists investigate their ‘métier’ in their own way, free and unbound, and meet each other here and now with their imaginary spatial interventions on a human scale. Fragile and solid. Autonomous and connected. At the same time.
Els WuytsSeptember 2021