“I want to observe and touch the invisible”.
AT: Where are you from and how/why you start engaging to art?
SVS: I am from a small village from the North of Belgium, but currently living and working between Brussels and Lisbon (Portugal). I always have been practicing art in different mediums: drawing, photography, painting and sculpting. But now, it is about three or four years I am working as a fulltime visual artist.
AT: When did it become serious?
SVS: To me it was always serious, but about four years ago I really wanted to go for it, and I worked less in my previous job and just gave it a try and wanted to focus on the fully. I always wanted to create my complete freedom, and to be the one who creates without other people telling me what or how to do. I wanted to have the complete control of what I wanted to make and express. Painting, sculpting, creating is my way to communicate. I am not a man of words, but a man of emotions, and this way of working is the best tool to express myself. It gives me the opportunity to understand myself, and to present it to others.
AT: Are there any person that have been significant in your progression as an artist?
SVS: My partner has always been a real support and the major support. He is the one that always understood that this was what I needed to do, so he really motivated to go for it. From my part, I can understand that living together with an artist must not be that easy, as my point of views are sometimes difficult to understand, my vision on freedom and life in general is not that mainstream. Things can seem to me very normal, but I do understand that for an outsider it can be hard to follow. And even sometimes, to be honest, I don’t even understand myself…
Asphodel gallery, New York – Installation view new works, 2018
AT: What’s your first approach to the work? Where does your process start?
SVS: To start working, I must clear my head, to have my focus on the work and to have not too much distraction.
AT: What are your favorite tools and materials for working?
SVS: Definitely my hands! I use them from beginning to end. They are always covered with plaster, pigments or varnish. Walking in the streets, I can see people stare at my dirty hands. It even can look if I use nail polish.
AT: Do you leave your work open to interpretation? Or do you think the viewer should engage with your work in a specific way?
SVS: Off course I want to leave my work open to any interpretation. As I respect my freedom, I don’t want to interfere in the freedom of others. For me it is needed that people can interpret that the work as they want. They have to be (or not) absorbed by the work and let their inner voice guide them. As my work is very sensitive and very much relied on emotions, I do not want it to put it in any box of concept, it has to have its freedom to live and to be interpreted. Who am I to tell people how the viewer should feel my emotions? It would be great if people do understand the silence and emptiness in the work, and if they make the time to let it affect on them. They don’t have to be afraid of the silence or try to escape this, but embrace this.
“Untitled”, 2018, pigments, jute, plaster and epoxy on board, 32 x 26 x 11 cm
“Untitled”, 2017, pigments, jute, plaster and epoxy on board, 22 x 28 x 11 cm
AT: How do you feel while you are working? You think of the final result?
SVS: When I work, I am – most of the time – in a complete state of concentration. I do not want to think of anything, not about anything that can distract my thoughts neither about the end result. I would feel imprisoned if the result or anything should be known in advance. My complete attention goes to the practice and act itself. For this, it is very important to work in a semi-clean space, I just want to have the piece I am working on, in front of me and only the tools I need to work with. It is so nice not to have control of our mind and sometimes also our body. Our mind, even as hard as we force, will always go to directions we don’t planned. Our mind is a free spirit in our body, and we have to accept it as it is.
AT: How do you understand when a work is finished?
SVS: Maybe it is easier to understand when it is not finished. As long as it is NOT finished, it is not finished. I am very difficult in this. Sometimes I think a work is ready, but then when I see it the day after, I am not happy with the result, and I work again on it. So it is hard to say, some pieces got it right away, and some pieces can be really stubborn to me.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from? Do you find inspiration outside or it’s all inside you?
SVS: For most of the time, inspiration has always been coming from my inner soul. I will always be working in a very honest way, without forcing things. My work has a very authentic character, where I let the soul speak. I am aware of what is inside me, and I don’t want to hide it or force it towards another direction. Currently I am struggling with a lot of fears, and this is reflected in the work. I am leaving a lot of weight behind and I am working towards a more pure and minimal approach, where the work is less charged. It is kind of liberation, and this freedom and joy can be seen in the more light-toned works. The light shines from my soul into the light-colored (almost white) surfaces, and reflects and absorbs the light, to give energy. The emptiness gives power and feeds the inner strength and inner life. I think there is no need to escape from our inner lives, but to stand still and reflect to experience it in an honest way. We need to inhale and exhale it. The border between a feeling and emotion must be very clear, and I want to emerge emotion and let the feeling fade away. I want to observe and touch the invisible.
“Dust road”, 2018, industriel paint, pigments, plaster on board, 49 x 61 x 3,5 cm
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
SVS: If painting would daunt me, I guess I never would have started with it. If I had to force myself for (or be scared of) expressing myself, I would have stopped a long time ago.
AT: What do you do outside of painting?
SVS: Really? Nothing… I don’t have a life.
Further, I sleep, wake up, drink coffee, breath, eat, laugh, play with the dog, walk, swim, cook, …
I must say that off course, it’s not a nine to five job, I am working all the time, from the morning till I go to sleep, and also during sleep. But working doesn’t have to mean, being constantly active working in the studio.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
SVS: The main goal is to work in the present and let the future surprise me. It would be a lie to say that I don’t have any goals; there are always goals to achieve, because that is the spirit to go for. But for now, I would be very happy if my work get really into the souls of people, and that they understand what I try to express, and that it brings them also to a kind of inner awareness. I would like that more people take the time to stand still in the current present, and take the time to observe the very moment, and let the rush of our world we live in behind (even for a short moment). So if I can touch emotions into people that would be great. And on my other goals, dreams and expectations, I am working hard.
Stan Van Steendam Born in 1985 Lives and works between Brussels and Lisbon EDUCATION 2003 - 2007, Master in Visual Arts, Ghent (BE) SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2019 Lagoas, Archiraar, Brussels (BE) 2018 I've never built anything on new land, Barbé Urbain, Ghent (BE) 2018 chiarificazione, Theca Gallery, Milan (IT) 2018 new works, Asphodel, New York (USA) 2018 cinzento, Archiraar, Brussels (BE) 2017 KunstRai solo stand, art fair Amsterdam, represented by Galerie LOOF (NL) 2017 what does it matter, Boeckercontemporary, Heidelberg (DE) 2017 KOSMOS, Galerie LOOF, Jubbega (NL) 2016 Lifeisart gallery, Antwerp (BE) 2015 Pico installation, vitrine jeune artiste, Les Brasseurs art contemporain, Liège (BE) GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2019 Collectible, art & design, Brussels 2018 Galeristes, art fair Paris, represented by Archiraar, Paris (FR) 2018 The future has no presence, Asphodel, New York (USA) 2018 Absolute, Boeckercontemporary, Heidelberg (DE) 2017 Harvest, Theca Gallery, Milan (IT) 2017 Galeristes, art fair Paris, represented by Archiraar, Paris (FR) 2017 Art Noord, Heerenveen, represented by Galerie LOOF (NL) 2017 Aspetti di superficie, group show with Sonia Costantini, Marco Mendeni & Stan Van Steendam, Theca Gallery, Milan (IT) 2017 Art Bodensee, represented by C.art, Prantl & Boch (AT) 2017 Panach', D'apostrof, Meigem (BE) 2017 Composition et couleur, Art Capital Comparaisons, Grand Palais, Paris (FR) 2017 Rotterdam Contemporary Art Fair, Rotterdam, represented by Galerie LOOF (NL) 2016 Galerie Albert Dumont, Brussels (BE) 2016 I-A-M, Zentrale, Berlin (DE) 2016 Salon Réalités Nouvelles, Paris (FR) 2016 Art The Hague, art fair The Hague, represented by Galerie LOOF (NL) 2016 Kinky Pinky, Lifeisart gallery, Antwerp (BE) 2016 KunstRai, art fair Amsterdam, represented by Galerie LOOF (NL) 2016 Galerie Albert Dumont, Brussels (BE) 2016 (in)cohérences, Abstract Project, Paris (FR) 2015 Pico installation, vitrine Hidden project, Brussels (BE) 2013 Open Doors, Design September, Brussels (BE) 2010 Houtemse O2, Inex Factory, Sint-Lievens-Houtem (BE) 2007 St.-Lucas School of Arts, Ghent (BE)
ARTIST RESIDENCIES 2017 Cripta747, Torino (IT) 2016 Syntax, Lisbon (PT) 2015 Prainha, Pico (PT) PUBLICATIONS consistenti meditazioni, text by Stefano Roberto Mazzatorta for exhibition catalogue chiarificazione, 2018 KOSMOS, catalogue exhibition at Galerie LOOF, Jubbega (NL), 2017 Dubuisson en Van Steedam, COLLECT AAA april, Ghent (BE), 2016 catalogue exhibition at Lifeisart Antwerp (BE), 2017 (in)cohérences, Abstract Project, Paris (FR), 2016 PRIVATE COLLECTIONS Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Germany, New York, Los Angeles PERMANENT INSTALLATION Untitled, 2016 pigments, plaster and epoxy on board Galerie LOOF, Jubbega (NL)