PREVIEW: The Gap: Selected Abstract Art from Belgium curated by Luc Tuymans for Parasol unit.

Renowned Belgian painter, Luc Tuymans has curated a group exhibition of abstract art from Belgium for Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art.

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Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen, ‘Column’, 2015. Acrylic, stainless steel and Plexiglas, 300 x 130 x 130 cm. Courtesy of the artists. Simulation by Pieter Maes.

For this exhibition, his first curated for a public institution in London, Luc Tuymans has brought together some 40 works from two successive generations of Belgian artists. Working in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture and installation, the artists presented in the show are:
Francis Alÿs (1959–), Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen (1961– and 1971–), Gaston Bertrand (1910–1994), Amédée Cortier (1921–1976), Raoul de Keyser (1930–2012), Walter Leblanc (1932–1986), Bernd Lohaus (1940–2010), Guy Mees (1935–2003), Gert Robijns (1972–), Timothy Segers (1983–), Boy & Erik Stappaerts (1969–), Philippe Van Snick (1946–), Jef Verheyen (1932–1984) and Pieter Vermeersch (1973–).

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Francis Alÿs, Untitled (2013) Photo: Courtesy Francis Alÿs and his studio

Focusing on the notion of abstraction in twentieth-century and contemporary Belgian art and the varying sources of influence and inspiration among the artists of two generations, Tuymans has selected fifteen artists whose work either articulates a relationship to abstraction or takes as its cue the definition of abstraction. Although the artists themselves have emerged from different periods and motivations, a clear formal relationship between the selected works is apparent, and thereby reveals a current and earlier interest in abstraction that has not lost its relevance over recent decades.

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Raoul de Keyser, Zevende Linnen Doos (1971) Photo: Peter Cox Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

Luc Tuymans, himself a figurative painter who constantly seeks to extend the traditional boundaries of his practice, has specifically selected these artists for the individual nature of their practice and the paradoxical way each of them uses their medium. Presented in the two gallery floors of Parasol unit, their works collectively investigate the potential, formal and conceptual tensions within the notion of abstraction.

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Boy & Erik Stappaerts, Polarization painting (2015) Photo: Viktorbentley Studio

Works by the earlier generation of artists represented in the show can be loosely situated within geometric abstraction and abstract constructivism, influenced by artists such as Piet Mondrian (1872–1944) and groups such as De Stijl (founded 1917) and the ZERO movement of the 1950s and 60s, as well as the American Colour Field painters. Whereas the more recent works by the younger generation of artists reconstruct and reinterpret the Modernist ideas and concerns from today’s artistic point of view. Ultimately, this exhibition highlights the diversity of artistic practice within abstraction, while revealing intergenerational influences and allowing viewers to explore and be challenged by the depth and limits of abstraction.

The Gap: Selected Abstract Art from Belgium Curated by Luc Tuymans for Parasol unit parasol-unit.org
9th September – 6th December 2015 Preview: Tuesday 8th September, 6.30 – 9 pm

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper' AofC - Issue 1 Autumn 2018