Two artists. Two exhibitions. Two formal languages. Tom Volkaert's sculptures are made from epoxy and steel and it is their size that makes them impressive. Alternatively, Gielis' bronze and ceramic figurines are intriguing precisely because of their introverted smallness. Gielis' sharply defined neon sculptures are almost repulsive due to their appealing colors. Volkaert's amorphous shapes and steel cut-outs are appealing because of their repulsive color schemes.
And yet: in spite of the apparent difference between the formal language of Gielis and Volkaert, these artists share an attitude; or even what one might call a counter-language.
What might a counter-language be? The visual language that Gielis and Volkaert have each developed in their own way often refers to an underground culture that escapes the mainstream of the art world. Skate and hardcore in the work of Gielis, obscure gore and old sci-fi B-movies in the work of Volkaert. The many references to these subcultures can be understood as multitimbral voices that oppose and escape the dominant traditions of the art world.
However, the real meaning and expressiveness that Gielis and Volkaert derive from these references only emerge once they are positioned within the interpretative field of the art world. It is only when interacting with a community of viewers for whom this visual language and references take on a new and artistic dimension that they truly become part of a work of art. This is the moment that meaning becomes unstable: we both recognize the underground references and are also unable to grasp them fully. As a result, these works acquire enigmatic quality.
Paradoxically, to achieve this effect Gielis and Volkaert need to let go of - and perhaps even betraying - the underground they so cherish. And at the same time, betrayal is always lurking in the art world too; after all, this world not only consists of an intimate community of viewers but also exists from commerce.
Artists: Daan Gielis, Tom Volkaert