Frederik Vergaert and Ferry Saris opened a new gallery this autumn, in the midst of a pandemic. It’s called FRED&FERRY and it’s located in Antwerp. It shows courage, although they do not necessarily see it that way. Ferry commented on the subject in the Belgian newspaper De Tijd: “I recently talked about it with a fellow gallery owner. He founded his own gallery ten years ago, during the financial crisis. And if it isn’t that kind of a crisis, there may be a personal crisis. There are always things that might be wrong.” His partner Frederik is the artistic director of the gallery. He has worked for several cultural institutions in Belgium for years now, and when his most recent employer Marion de Cannière decided to close her gallery in August, Frederik saw the potential of the situation. The men actually met at their children's schoolyard. Ferry has been collecting art since his college days and now, he is responsible for the business side of the gallery. The gallerists have an idealistic approach.
“We don't need to make much money. What we earn here will be invested in subsequent projects. That is why we call ourselves an "artist based gallery”."
Zoro Feigl, Swell, 2020, FRED&FERRY.
At the moment, FRED&FERRY has programmed the solo exhibition "Sea-change", with kinetic art by Zoro Feigl. This artist has already proved himself in the Netherlands: his work was on show in no fewer than three Dutch museums this last year: in Museum Voorlinden, at Stedelijk Museum Schiedam and most recently in Museum Kranenburgh. Feigl is fascinated by the laws of nature, transformation, energy and the ways in which people want to control nature. His works seem to defy all natural laws and he uses minimal resources to make that happen. He regularly collaborates with engineers and scientists and in 2018, he won the ‘Witteveen+Bos-prijs voor Kunst+Techniek’ technology award. Feigl: “I think I really enjoy seeing how the world works. The interplay of forces and coincidences. When I make a work, pushing the boundaries is the most exciting part and then I go and see: what is the essence and what does it need in order to work, at its most minimal? You look for those two extremes and from there on you can create a choreography.” Feigl is always trying to understand the behaviour of a material, in order to be able to control it. He also links his work to the current pandemic. “Humanity likes to place itself above or outside of nature. Now you see that we are part of a larger whole. We cannot just take over nature and its laws.”
One of the central works in the exhibition in FRED&FERRY is the gigantic installation "Zwermen" (“Swarm/Swarming”) (2020), which was shown in the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam earlier this. The work consists of a gigantic horizontal circle that is attached to the ceiling. The circle measures four by four meters and is covered with semi-transparent foil. Hundreds of small bullet-like spheres move to the rhythm of the swirling movement, giving the viewer a visual cue that a flock of birds is crossing the sky above you. Feigl researched the movements of birds for eight years before completing the project. Because of the random but controlled movement of the balls, you always get to see a different configuration, just like in nature. Feigl: “A kind of very interesting group dynamic is emerging, in which nobody is actually in charge, and yet they all know where they are going. I think the essence of the beauty lies in both the complexity and simplicity, that come very close in this case.” The exhibition shows a varied selection of his work. The two “Twisted Nematics” installations in the exhibition, for example, consist of slowly rotating vertical discs on the wall that are coated with a layer of temperature-sensitive lacquer. When hot water flows over the surface, a remarkable pattern and an oil-like colour appear. In "Abysses" we see a round, metal container (with a diameter of about a meter) that is filled with dye and oil. A centrifugal movement allows the liquids and colours to flow into each other in a mesmerising way that is continuously changing.
Feigl was born the son of an artist and a filmmaker. Yet his sources of inspiration are surprising to say the least: from MacGyver and The A-Team to Dutch children’s cartoon couple Buurman and Buurman. He is perhaps best known for his ‘moving paintings’, in which a thick liquid appears to violate all laws of nature, flowing upwards on a conveyor belt. Feigl regularly uses industrial materials for his kinetic works. Consider for instance the installation that was on view in Museum Kranenburgh until the end of November: a gigantic constellation of fire hoses that seem to make a hypnotic and dance-like movement, caused by the adding and removal of air pressure. The result is both aesthetic and elegant as well as unpredictable.
Zoro Feigl, Twisted Nematics I, 2020, FRED&FERRY.
The exhibition “Sea-change” will be on show until January 30, 2021 (extended) in FRED&FERRY in Antwerp. The gallery is open by appointment. The space also offers other possibilities to discover new artists: every month Frederik and Ferry invite an artist to compile a curated Spotify playlist.