Marcel Berlanger

° 1965

Works in Brussel (BE), lives in Brussel (BE).

From a young age Marcel Berlanger learned painting techniques from his grandfather, Walter Hasseweer. He studied at Saint-Luc and at the Ecole de Recherches Graphiques (ERG) in Brussels, notably with Joëlle Tuerlinckx, Marc Vanhove, Marthe Wéry and Pierre Carlier, before undertaking a monumental painting course with Alexandre Obolensky. At the end of his studies in 1993, he met Jean de Nyswith, whom he has been working since the opening of the In Situ Gallery in Aalst. He took part in numerous exhibitions while teaching at the ERG. In 2001, he exhibited off-site at the Venice’s Biennale under the commissioning of Laurent Jacob and in 2003 at the Academia Belgica in Rome under the commissioning of Pierre-Olivier Rollin and Frank Maes. For several years, he collaborated in multidisciplinary creations of theater, performance and music with his sister, Françoise Berlanger.

The work of Marcel Berlanger oscillates between hyperrealism and abstraction, between photography and painting. The artist works with a limited register of images that he develops, modifies, and reproduces from one painting to another: plants, flowers, trees, landscapes, animals, portraits, as if they were excerpts from an encyclopaedia. These images, however, are never unintentionally chosen. Bearing a sentimental and mysterious aspect, they result from a play between the form and the references in order to instil doubt in the viewer, forced to penetrate within the different strata composing the work.

Marcel Berlanger's works question the relationship between painting and image and reveal the capacity of painting to generate critical thinking about his praxis. The painting not only reveals the proposed subject, it also shows the way in which the image is  achieved, and with which means it stirs our senses and recalls memories. However, Marcel Berlanger does not reconfigure the motif. He meticulously reproduces photographs, drawings and pictures from magazines chosen for their immediately identifiable potential attractiveness, and which first evoke the technique that makes them exist as an image. Editing, framing, cutting, formatting, colour (mostly monochrome), lighting as well as the mode of exposure, without losing sight of aesthetic experience, question the contemporary and plural status of the image to generate, to make appear, disappear and to reveal its socio-political content.

Using a polyester fiberglass framework, Marcel Berlanger accentuates the materiality of the framework and thus the tactile perception of the work. This takes place in the spatio-temporal experience of the viewers, forcing them to intensely experience near and far, scale and perspective, as well as the structuring of the space of the work. Indeed, when viewers come close to the canvas, the texture and the pattern disappear. When they move away, patterns gradually reappear. Viewers are forced to modify their positioning and perceptual mechanisms usually used to apprehend the work.

Other methods of tension used by the artist: the bomb-painting (African flag, 2003), cutting (Enjoy Division, 2012) and piercing (Cécile de France, 2008) of his works. Through these processes, Marcel Berlanger shatters the illusion of depth of his images, dissolves the subject and operates a real disfiguration forcing the viewer to make a new perceptual effort. The artist plays on the conventions and their reversals. Actually, these seemingly free lines and slices do not ‘erase’ the motif but they are prerequisites. In this way, Marcel Berlanger seeks to make the viewer aware of the different constitutive stages of the work and its plastic effectiveness.

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