Anti-peinture I

Vic Gentils

1960

Painting, 70 x 58 cm.
Materials: wood

Collection: Collection Ronny Van de Velde, Antwerp.

Following years of search and doubt during which Vic Gentils (1919-1997) assimilates expressionism and the ubiquitous Picasso and Klee, in 1955 he turns to abstract painting. And when that too seems inadequate, Gentils starts making his famous assemblages. These are indeed abstract compositions, from wood scraps – usually frames from doors or windows – that he combines with appropriated picture frames, thus also referring to the painting as ‘window on the world’. In this sense *Anti-peinture I* (1960) is not really an adieu to painting but rather an evocation of painting’s own shortcomings. Gentils makes art-historical art. With cast-off decorations once sold to nostalgic parochial folk, he forges a new patrimony. In the white modern spaces so desirous of being timeless, his assemblages function like alienating interventions, objects that underscore the historical nature of each object, each space. And perhaps the opting for dark tones was his way to escape from the shadow of expressionism, by ironic reference to that somber style sometimes drown in asphalt.

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