Waterfalls, rugged rock formations that still display the traces of the sculptor’s hand – in this exhibition, Filip Vervaet bends nature to his will. His monumental sculptures offer visitors a viewing experience that is both disconcerting and sensorially stimulating. While his works refer to traditional sculpture, they have a contemporary and even science fiction feel about them.
Vervaet transforms the theatre space at de Brakke Grond into a parallel world. A sculptural gateway marks the transition to this alienating ‘landscape’ in which the artist constantly plays with our perceptions.
Bronze v. automotive paint
Vervaet uses a wide assortment of physical materials, ranging from traditional bronze and stone to automotive paint, coatings and specialist foils. Beyond that, he also uses wind, light and sound, and frequently combines different materials in one piece. His approach is intuitive, and he is fascinated by the mass of the material and by the making processes from which his sculptures emerge.
The human body is not directly represented in Cascade (although certainly suggested by the mysterious form concealed under a fluttering veil in Medusa). But it often forms the basis for the dimensions of Vervaet's sculptures. As in the case of the titular work in this exhibition, Vervaet’s large bronze bas-relief Cascade (2018), the size of which is based on his own arm span. Or Collumn (2018), where the height of the hand-sculpted vertical column was dictated by the limits of the sculptor’s reach. In these works, Vervaet allows for traces of the making process to remain visible. This is also the case with Fountain (2017), the surface of which shows the creative gestures of the artist. The clay is furrowed by his fingers and the water that trickles over the bronze leaves its mark. This alterability of the material is characteristic of Vervaet's work.
An immaterial world
In various ways, Vervaet seeks to use matter to create an immaterial world that can be perceived as paradisiacal, but equally as apocalyptic. It starts with the floor of the exhibition space - completely covered with dark sand. The works on view in Cascade have a profound and often mystical undertone.
Cascade is Filip Vervaet’s (b. Mechelen, 1977) first major solo exhibition in the Netherlands. It is being held in collaboration with the De Warande cultural centre in Turnhout, the venue for his 2019 exhibition Up on the Hill, Down by the River. Last year, Vervaet also showed an installation at Lustwarande in Tilburg. The present exhibition, Cascade, is made possible by the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts (AFK) and the Mondriaan Fund.