The enigmatic work of Belgian artist Stan Van Steendam challenges our ideas of tradition and modernity. His work reflects the intimacy that exists between the artist and his craft, his materials and the emotions and sensations that are embodied in his meditative creations: sculptural objects and large-scale monochromatic paintings.
Van Steendam's practice aims to deconstruct the materiality of painting, which he explores through an extensive layering process of raw pigments, plaster and other matter such as ash, dirt and dust. Wanting to be close to his materials and to control their traces and movements, he works primarily with his bare hands. With the elevation of the creative process in his pieces and by working with his body to treat his material sculpturally, Van Steendam is questioning the notions of the limits of painting, and of sculpture and of our preconceptions of art more broadly. This adventurism enables him to propose new approaches to tradition and allows his work to co-exist with history in a way that is reflective as much as it is in tribute.
Van Steendam — who lives and works between Brussels and Portugal — is motivated by classical paintings and the work of other artists, but as well too, he draws much inspiration from the places where he chooses to reside and from nature; from lakes, water, cork trees, and dusty roads.
Captivated by the influence of light and skies, that which can be seen reflected directly in his recent output, Stan continues his exploration of monochromatic paintings, among other pieces.
The series of works that made for this exhibition, DUST ROAD, were created by the artist during the summer of 2020 in his studio in Portugal.
They are all connected by their use of matter. During the work process of the first painting, Stan carefully collected the dust from the studio and this was the starting point for the next one. Thus, the dust is in constant movement from one painting to the next, creating dusty surfaces, while some of them are finished with a glossy epoxy layer.
A well-balanced rhythm of profoundness has been achieved through an alternation of rather thin paintings placed in relation to the more voluminous, almost sculptural pieces.
Van Steendam is surrendering to the summer heat guided by the intensity of a void, while being completely surrounded by clouds of floating dust, and sensing the freedom within this moment as a kind of intimacy towards himself, as he explains. He is almost blinded by the bright white sunlight. It is during this blurry presence, that an ability of complete focus gives him the possibility to capture a detail within this unclear moment of saudade (melancholy) in a vivid light.