The international fair for contemporary drawing in Brussels, known as Art on Paper, will take place from 6 to 9 October 2022 in the Vanderborght building. In this 'temple of culture', in the heart of Brussels, Art on Paper offers a varied and high-quality overview of what there is to discover in the field of drawing. Selected by a committee of Belgian and international galleries, Art on Paper offers different target groups, from professionals to art lovers, the opportunity to discover a variety of work on paper by emerging and established artists from home and abroad.
Emma Verhulst (1994, Antwerp) creates a visual interpretation of her surroundings in her work. Her drawings are spontaneous, using associations to create a new image, often with a strong narrative element. Her work is highly fragmented and alienating due to the combination of dreamlike images and absence of a clear storyline. By confronting the viewer with a nonlinear universe that feels familiar yet strange, the emphasis is placed on elements that seem inconsistent with our impression of the mundane.
The work of Jo De Smedt (1974) offers an ironic and anarchic look at societal trends and banality. It shows a fascination with trench art in which soldiers, prisoners of war or civilians create decorative objects whose meaning is related directly to an armed conflict or its consequences, thereby offering insight into their feelings and emotions about the war and the materials they use in their environment available to them. De Smedt's drawn or etched compositions are razor-sharp and absurd. The iconography and typography he uses originate from the nihilism of the early 1980s and are influenced by elements from Surrealism and Pop Art. The hard writing and deep scratches literally illustrate the profundity of De Smedt's work, in which melancholy and humour converge to reveal an underlying core.
Mai van Oers (1953) is an artist with an idiosyncratic oeuvre of landscapes that are difficult to interpret. Her drawings take you to a fantasy world in which life and death, humans and animals, nature and architecture, past and present are intertwined. Van Oers plays with light, order, perspective, infinity and spaciousness to create a 'reality' that makes reference to cathedrals, tombs and fairy-tale characters, as well as art-historical sources of inspiration such as De très riches heures du Duc de Berry, a richly illustrated book of hours that marks the culmination of manuscript illumination in late-medieval Europe. Van Oers' work ranges from the miniscule to the monumental and demonstrates an impressive mastery of materials, colour and form. Her work can be found in the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam and Centraal Museum in Utrecht, among others.
The reliefs on paper (Hahnemuhle etching paper, 300 g) by Fiona Koene are tangible moments of silence that are 'read' like wordless poetry. Timeless and universal in form and composition, they act as a soothing antithesis to the issues of the day. In an interplay of dark and light, Koene visualises moments and emotions that she illustrates with such titles Between Us, When I'm here, Within a Moment and Walk With Me. But her 'Untitled' works also evoke emotions in all their ‘bareness’, varying from vulnerability to strength and from unrest to balance. By playing with geometric elements and limiting herself to relief printing on white paper, Koene creates a unique visual language based on the tension between emptiness and image.
In the brightly coloured paintings and works on paper by Australian artist Tom Polo (1985), a head may be inside a body instead of on top of it or might be larger than the body, while an eye may be the only element to suggest there’s a head or a head that has nothing but a pair of arms. You might say that Polo's portraits are not about the outside but the inside: how we behave, how we move, talk, disappear, etc. Or as Eugene Yiu Nam Cheung describes Polo's paintings: “Figures seem to hide behind watery pools of pink or completely lost between rich layers of electric blue. [Tom] lures us in with a foot here or a face there, but when our eyes adjust, we do not see a clear division between where bodies begin and end.” Rather than being figurative, Polo's paintings can best be described as abstractly expressive in the tradition of De Kooning, in which figures (particularly women) are engulfed by an abstract environment. The strength of Polo's work lies in the pronounced use of colour, details and composition. Polo's works on canvas and paper are populated not by people and their story, but people and their attempts to express themselves.