Provincie Limburg.be

Frederic Geurts - (un)balanced

solo exhibition
Frederic Geurts - (un)balanced
08.11.2009 to 07.02.2010

The work of Frederic Geurts existGeurts’ work consists of monumental, yet very fragile structures, in which the artist goes to the extreme in exploring the boundaries of gravity and the materialness of the constructions.

Frederic Geurts’ solo exhibition will consist of new installations scaled to the available spaces at Z33. As a complement to the exhibition, there is a ‘cabinet’ of Associations designed by Rik De Boe and Peter Morrens of (the) Voorkamer in Lier. Freely associating with Geurts’ artistic exploration they present works by scientists, old masters, and contemporary artists.

Every year, Z33 gives one artist the opportunity to produce a first large solo exhibition. The choice goes to an artist with roughly a 10-year track record, ready for a jump to the big scene.

This year, artist Frederic Geurts was selected. Geurts’ work consists of monumental, yet very fragile structures, in which the artist goes to the extreme in exploring the boundaries of gravity and the materialness of the constructions. One of his works was exhibited earlier at Z33. For Super! in 2006, he created an impressive sculpture in the art centre’s garden.

 

Frederic Geurts’ solo exhibition will consist of new installations scaled to the available spaces at Z33. Frederic Geurts: “I can’t make something in a void. I need a context. I like to interact with the surroundings. Both the spatial aspects and the significance of the space are important in this respect. In this sense I am more a designer. The way an architect is given a tender to work from is how I create a programme for myself.

For Z33 I wanted to work on the subject of the unstable. Perhaps because the architecture is so stately here? I went in search of the tipping moment, the (moment of) almost falling over. In one or the other way you can find this in all of the works in the exhibition: explicitly so as in the aluminium pane or the structure with galvanised steel wires. Perhaps less obvious in the dance video, but it’s still there. Hence the title for the exhibition: (un)balanced.”

Aside from the large works Frederic Geurts has created especially for Z33, there are a number of smaller works in the exhibition which pull the exhibit out of its isolation and place it in a larger perspective. “The whole exhibition is one big story. Next to my sculptures I place what you could call measuring instruments in the side areas. I present a sundial to remind us of the fact that we are orbiting the sun. I also show an axle placed parallel to the earth to point out that we are standing at an angle to that axle. This makes verticality something very relative.”

As a complement to the exhibition, there is a ‘cabinet’ of Relations designed by Rik De Boe and Peter Morrens of (the) Voorkamer in Lier. Freely associating with Geurts’ artistic exploration they present works by scientists, old masters, and contemporary artists such as Bas Jan Ader, Piranesi en Johannes Kepler.

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an interview with Frederic Geurts

How would you describe yourself and your work?

My work mainly consists of monumental, yet very fragile structures made to fit the space in which they ultimately are set. Time and again I push the limits in exploring the boundaries of gravity and the materialness of the constructions.
Do you make your sculptures on site because you need the delimitation of the space in order to create your work?

I do think so. I can’t make it in the void of something. I need a context. I like to interact with the surroundings. Both the spatial aspects and the significance of the space are important in this respect. In this sense I am more a designer. The way an architect is given a tender to work from is how I create a programme for myself. For Z33 I wanted to work on the subject of the unstable. Perhaps because the architecture is so stately here? I went in search of the tipping moment, the moment of almost falling over. In one or the other way you can find it in all of the works in the exhibition: explicitly so in the aluminium plane or the structure with galvanised steel wires. Perhaps less obvious in the dance video, but it’s still there. Hence the title for the exhibition: (un)balanced.

What makes your work art and why do you want to make art?

Of course, what is art? I believe that the motivation for making art has not changed since the beginning of time. We want to respond to the absurdity of the fact that we are here and that we are mortal. During childhood, I found the concept of the infinite universe truly horrible. Infinity and senselessness meant the same to me. Now I can live with it, more so, I find the infinite and the intangible to be strangely comforting. To name it or work with it is already a comfort in itself. Maybe that is why I am still preoccupied with it. But as to why I make art, there is no ready-made answer.

Your work exudes a sense of beauty. What do you think about beauty in contemporary art?

Beauty is hard to define because it means something different for everyone. Jan Hoet says: “Beauty is not a criterion in contemporary art.” Maybe he’s right, but that doesn’t mean it should be excluded. Beauty is fascinating, whether you want to or not.

You explore the technical limitations to find the tipping point?

Yes, the search for the technical boundary makes it tip over in a content-related way also. Suddenly it seems to be about something. It becomes an existential tipping point. For instance, I can work for months on how to make a sculpture that responds to the slightest wind breeze. Why do I utilize voile here? Not because I think it’s a beautiful, sensual fabric, but because it’s the lightest fabric that can stretch across a surface.

Your work seems to originate from complicated calculations. It is impossible not to take gravity and natural laws into account. However, I read that your starting points are intuition and experimentation.

My work indeed suggests that everything is very calculated and that I in fact create engineer-art, but that is not the case. I work solely through intuition.

The viewer should in fact only see the lightness of your work, and forget about all the technical skill that underlies it.

In a way, yes, so that the viewer looking at my sculptures won’t think: “Wow, that guy can solder well” (laughs). In my older works for instance, I have made spans that stood on their own, making the virtuosity all the more apparent. But through my exhibition (un)balanced and the subject of tipping, I take virtuosity out of it in a way. My works seem to be collapsing, almost literally. My aluminium plane or my structure with galvanised steel wires almost look like complete failures. Their virtuosity is less explicit, but that doesn’t make the exploration any less extensive or complicated. With balance I really manipulate the viewer. They see something impossible. I want to provoke unease and uncertainty in the viewer. It is my aim to topple them over, both literally and figuratively'

What is the message you would like to convey?

I don’t want to convey any message at all. Messages remind me of sermons and bad movies in which good conquers bad. What message is there for instance in a good John Cassavetes movie? None! But there is a feeling of recognition. In his movies you don’t always see people run about self-assuredly, or people who fail. This works cathartic in a way. You feel as if you are not alone with your thoughts, feelings, and vulnerability.

Do you want the viewer to look at your sculptures with an open mind or is there need for accompanying texts as a key to your work?

My sculptures should in the first place speak for themselves. Sometimes I’m surprised at how even a non-art connoisseur, when looking at a certain artwork, can be so close to the core of my work. With my Ellips there was this little boy with Down syndrome who asked me: “What is this? That’s the world, right?” With one word he had said it all.
I can imagine though how an accompanying text can be helpful because it suggests meanings and places them in a broader context.

Is there a reason why none of your sculptures have titles?

The only reason is that language-wise I can’t seem to think of something to put next to my visual work. Either it’s too one-sided, or too suggestive.

Is there a connection between your inner world and what you express through your art?

Probably. I think every artist works from his own story.

Some artists deny this.

Then I wonder whether that’s really true. I doubt it, though. Why do you make certain things? You’re not going to make something that is completely disconnected from yourself? You’re not going to feel like doing that at all?

In what way are your sculptures different from those of other contemporary artists?

I don’t think I follow the flow. I find it a reassuring thought. I’m convinced that this is where I’ve found my own contemporary narrative. You could say your work is timeless. I don’t agree. I couldn’t have made my work fifty years ago. Installation art was not at all being made at that time anyway. I’m part of that tradition. Of course there first was Rodin who took the sculpture of its pedestal and then there was for instance Serra who pulled the surrounding space into the work and in doing so made the viewer a physical part of the work. I didn’t invent that. I’m just a child of my time.

Which work of art was a true key work for you?

I’ve always closely followed developments in the art world. The first time I was really touched by an artwork was when I saw a photo by Richard Long, an artist who leaves marks in the landscape and then photographs them. There was a pebble beach in the picture. The artist had selected the biggest stones and put them in a circle on the other stones. It’s everything and at the same time it’s nothing. Everything because the circle draws in the ebb and flow cycle and by extension the whole planet, and also nothing because still it’s just stones on stones.

Francis Smets describes your work in your book (Frederic Geurts, MER, 2009) as a commentary on Scipio’s Dream. Can you relate this to your work and yourself?

In Cicero’s story (50 B.C.), Scipio is carried up to the heavenly expanse by his grandfather. When Scipio asks him what music he is hearing, his grandfather tells him it is the music of the spheres, making the planets orbit along proportions of musical geometry in harmony. I do believe that the universe is a larger whole with complex movements, in which all forces are in balance. If everything is one large whole, then we are an inseparable part of it. Therefore everything we do has an influence on the whole and vice versa.

Is art a safe place in this world?

I don’t know if art is really all that safe. Sometimes it can give comfort, the way a mother can. But that mother can just as well blow and make you feel unbalanced.

Which is why you want to express both the equilibrium and the imbalance through your sculptures?

Indeed. I want to express that contradiction. Back to your childhood and youth.
I have always made drawings, done projects, modelled in clay. I just did it, I’ve never thought about it. I’ve always made things. Thanks to an art teacher I did art training in high school. After that I opted for a course in product design. That was a very experimental programme and the experiences I’ve had there have served me well.

When you are experimenting and creating, do you have an audience in mind?

Not really. I try to be my own audience. I believe that this is really what making art is about: to create something without really knowing why and then look back at your own work the way a stranger would. What does the work say? This back and fro motion is what differentiates us from people who make outsider art. They are fully absorbed in their own world and don’t wonder whether their work is relevant enough to be taken outside.

Are there writers, musicians, or philosophers who inspire your creative process?

Definitely! I find the philosopher Heidegger very interesting for instance. What I’ve learned from him is that art is an event, a meeting of the immaterial and the material, the eternal and the temporary. An artwork made today carries the whole history of what has come before. It is material and tangible yet there is also an intangible side to it.
The musician Nick Cave also inspires me. Through his music and lyrics he addresses the more vulnerable and darker side of life. And he doesn’t shy away from spirituality.

At Z33, we get to see a video of a dancing couple. How did you come to that idea?

I’ve wanted to do something with dance for a long time. It’s beautiful to watch and wonderful to do. Dance is also about equilibrium and balance; essentially it’s about two people swirling in a circle. To dance is also to defy gravity. In this way I believe my work to be very close to it. This video was necessary to make the story – the inevitable story that is this exhibition – more complex. In this pro-ject, experimentation was justified; even though it was a risk to work in a medium which I don’t control very well.

The spiral we then see in the exhibition is another way of telling the same story.
It is definitely a trend in contemporary art that medium-wise everything goes.
It is the merit of today that one doesn’t have to express one’s visual narrative in only one medium.

Aside from your dancing film, you also built some kind of laboratory at Z33. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

The whole exhibition is one big story. Next to my sculptures I place what you could call measuring instruments in the side areas. In this way, I want to pull the exhibit out of its isolation and place it within a larger perspective. I present a sundial to remind us of the fact that we are orbiting the sun. I also show an axle placed parallel to the earth to point out that we are standing at an angle to that axle. This makes verticality something very relative. Then I also show some smaller instruments, like a vibration meter that reacts to the slightest air movement, to make us aware of the fact that we also move the air.

You have invited two guests: Peter Morrens and Rik De Boe, well-known from Voorkamer in Lier.

In a way they do in the two smaller downstairs spaces what I do in those side spaces upstairs. Their contribution is entitled ‘Associations’. They present a free association of both artistic and scientific work that links up with my work. For more than ten years now Peter and Rik have been making very interesting exhibitions at Voorkamer in Lier. I had complete confidence in their choices. There will be works presented from, among others, Bas Jan Ader, Johannes Kepler, Roman Signer, Piranesi, Dirk Braeckman, Gerrit Van Bakel and Vladimir Shukhov.

Does the interaction you have with other artists add to your work?

Certainly! It makes you feel you are not disconnected from the rest. I am not the only person to think about gravity and balance. I wish to present my work in a wider framework, without pretending to want to casually position myself within the whole of art history.

Did you become an artist so you could be on stage?

Maybe. Artists tend to be rather vain. In the end, what is art to you?
(thinks) The most pointless activity? (laughs)

by Hilde Van Canneyt for Z33

Construction

Images

Frederic Geurts - Campagnebeeld
Frederic Geurts - Maquette
Het aftasten van de grenzen van de zwaartekracht. (1/8)
Het aftasten van de grenzen van de zwaartekracht. (2/8)
Het aftasten van de grenzen van de zwaartekracht. (3/8)
Het aftasten van de grenzen van de zwaartekracht. (4/8)
Het aftasten van de grenzen van de zwaartekracht. (5/8)
Het aftasten van de grenzen van de zwaartekracht. (6/8)
Het aftasten van de grenzen van de zwaartekracht. (7/8)
Het aftasten van de grenzen van de zwaartekracht. (8/8)
Het aftasten van de grenzen van de materialiteit van de constructie. (1/2)
uitnodiging (un)balanced
Structuur met verzinkte staalsdraad - Frederic Geurts
Structuur met verzinkte staalsdraad - Frederic Geurts
Structuur met verzinkte staalsdraad - Frederic Geurts
Structuur met verzinkte staalsdraad - Frederic Geurts
Aluminium Plaat 2009 - Frederic Geurts
Aluminium Plaat 2009 - Frederic Geurts
Aluminium Plaat 2009 - Frederic Geurts
Aluminium Plaat 2009 - Frederic Geurts
Aluminium Plaat 2009 - Frederic Geurts
Aluminium Plaat 2009 - Frederic Geurts
Aluminium Plaat 2009 - Frederic Geurts
Aluminium Plaat 2009 - Frederic Geurts
Balans, 2009 (verzinkte staaldraad veerbol en lood) - Frederic Geurts
Balans, 2009 (verzinkte staaldraad veerbol en lood) - Frederic Geurts
Balans, 2009 (verzinkte staaldraad veerbol en lood) - Frederic Geurts
Axis mundi, 2009 (verzinkte staaldraad) - Frederic Geurts
Axis mundi, 2009 (verzinkte staaldraad) - Frederic Geurts
Analemma voor Lier (c-print - potlood op papier) - Frederic Geurts
Blauwe vleugel 2002 (roestvrije veerstaal polyester voile) - Frederic Geurts
Axis mundi, 2009 (verzinkte staaldraad) - Frederic Geurts
Frederic Geurts - (un)balanced
Mobiel 2009 (zink veerstaal) - Frederic Geurts
Spiraal 2009 (verzinkte staalsdraad) - Frederic Geurts
Spiraal 2009 (verzinkte staalsdraad) - Frederic Geurts
Spiraal 2009 (verzinkte staaldraad) - Frederic Geurts
Spiraal 2009 (verzinkte staalsdraad) - Frederic Geurts
Spiraal 2009 (verzinkte staalsdraad) - Frederic Geurts
Spiraal 2009 (verzinkte staalsdraad) - Frederic Geurts
Associaties, een kabinet by Voorkamer - Frederic Geurts
Associaties, een kabinet by Voorkamer - Frederic Geurts
Associaties, een kabinet by Voorkamer - Frederic Geurts
Associaties, een kabinet by Voorkamer - Frederic Geurts
Associaties, een kabinet by Voorkamer - Frederic Geurts
Associaties, een kabinet by Voorkamer - Frederic Geurts
Associaties, een kabinet by Voorkamer - Frederic Geurts
Structuur met verzinkte staalsdraad - Frederic Geurts
Associaties, een kabinet by Voorkamer - Frederic Geurts
Structuur met verzinkte staalsdraad - Frederic Geurts

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