Proposal of the Props
08.05.10 – 13.06.10
Rik Moens (b. Ninove, 1969) is an artist who repeatedly seeks ways to test the limits of painting, without renouncing the painterly tradition. As a painter, Moens continually questions the conventions and the limitations of his medium. Basic cornerstones, such as format, composition, background, signature, texture and colour are always subjected to thorough investigation. For KIOSK, under the title Proposal of the Props, Rik Moens presents a series of recent paintings that have never before been exhibited.
Each of the works in the exhibition exerts a strong physical presence into the space. This is not so much because of the large format of the canvases themselves as the specific history of how they came about. Rik Moens’ paintings are built up in an almost ritual manner, layer upon layer, and in this way, they become the performative carriers of an extremely meticulous process of creation, which can take months to complete. Thanks to this process-oriented working method, the concept of time has a prominent place in the aesthetic experience of the painting. The canvases are thoroughly prepared and built up in countless transparent layers, creating a unique play of transparency, light and color. The layers are applied with attention to technique and material, which by no means negates emotional experience during their creation. This is expressed primarily in the way in which some of the layers give decisive and expressive depth to the canvas.
The translation of Moens’ dedication to the medium of painting is evident not only in how he paints, but also in the way he questions the accepted conventions of his medium. We find, for example, the signature of the artist and the apple motif in caricatured form. On the one hand, the apples refer to genre art, to the still life, but they also evoke the characteristic logo of the cardboard labels in the corner of the packages in which canvases are sold at art supply shops.
Rik Moens paints in acrylics, manipulating the paint in different consistencies and, like an accomplished alchemist, he experiments with a range of additives, including thickeners and glues. The drying process does not always take place as expected and the paint may shrink, ripple or crack. In this aspect of ‘accident’, the artist sees the opportunity of incorporating this result as an aesthetic element in the work. Another characteristic is the emphasis placed on the material aspects of painting itself. The dripping of paint on the sides of the canvases is unimpeded. This reinforces the ideas of stepping out of the flat plane and adding a three-dimensional factor to the work. Attaching different frameworks to one another, for example, gives a canvas almost object-like proportions.
The work of Rik Moens is a continuous interplay between artistic integrity and playful irony, between intimacy and expressive power. The exchanges between these different aspects creates a playful arc of tension in the exhibition.