locations of discovery
Wilfried Lansink is fascinated by archaeology, by habitats bearing traces he can link to other places. In this way, he relates archaic remains to the age in which he is living. He regards his hiking routes, whether they may be cart tracks or digital highways, as connecting lines through history.
Lansink finds it important to explain the same form in several ways: a hole is both a cave and a (water) source, or may be an eye or something else. He does not interpret in one single direction, but the origin is certainly a stimulus to explore different directions. For example, any location of discovery is also linked to what appears within himself: visions, thoughts, dreams that form themselves into images.
Ink drawing, untitled, 2006, 61 x 86 cm.
It is remarkable that a recognizable trail runs from one image to the next, from the origin to the conclusion, even if one finale can be exchanged for another. Everything is relative, but the components are connected to the whole, just as there is a language that unites people within a certain area and with a previous or later time. His working process is similar.
Untitled, painting, 2007,105 x165 cm.
He is a poet but he has abandoned poetry-writing as merely wordcraft, opting for the more open art of painting which offers greater access to routes that can extend in several directions, abstract and figurative, literal and literally.
Tacitly, his work represents the unity of location of discovery and place of habitation � from past to present.
Untitled, oil painting, 2007, 55 x 170 cm.
Wilfried Lansink was born in Borne in 1963. In 1986 he moved to Hengelo, and followed art education at the AKI in nearby Enschede. In 1992 he exhibited his autonomous work at the Debutant Salon in Slagharen. Three years later he displayed his work in a dual exhibition in the Oele Gallery, a leading gallery in Amsterdam, where he again presented his painting in the autumn of that year, this time as a candidate for the Royal Painting Prize. He received a grant for the period 1996-98, and also for the two subsequent years. He remained associated to this gallery for the following few years. In 1999, Lansink exhibited his work in Amsterdam and Leeuwarden. His means of expression alternated between oil paint and a carefully compiled egg distemper, by means of which the subtle colours almost tangibly radiated from the canvas or paper. His art was exhibited in Hengelo, at a solo exhibition in the Art Centre there, and also in the Haus der Niederlanden in Munster in 2000.
(picture: see for example: Untitled, 1995, oil paint on canvas, 128 x 127 cm.)
His painting gradually became more robust and the degree of abstraction increased with the inclusion of symbolic figures and characters which functioned as switching devices in a process with several options. The more reflective side, frequently articulated in large canvases, often in portrait format one and a half metres tall, assumed an increasingly significant role. In the early period, few works were allocated titles. The symbolism here is self-evident: schematically painted figures are repeated in various transparent colours with exploratory lines. The universal quality, rather than subjective or individual aspects, was emphasized by means of repetition and geometric and abstract figuration with transparent hues.
In 1998, more expression began to appear in the works on paper, in studies of emotionally tinted facial expressions. �Painting is silence�, is what Peggie Breitbarth said of Lansink�s work in 2002. He is �a vessel full of contrasts, a romantic and a mystic, interested in natural science, psychology, philosophy and religion�.
There is indeed a strong will to order, but at the same time there is also experiment in the expression. Nevertheless, anyone who inspects his work more closely will see a coherent compositional structure that covers the contrasts, binding them into an entity. Perception and examination form an ongoing chain.
The coloured areas have become more condensed and have a more spatial vigour, enabling the expressive figuration of the human countenance to rise to the surface from the depths: a hollow, cave or hole. The theme is oriented toward the metaphysical. The path of mind and matter, as he himself says, leads to insight, wisdom and freedom.
Untitled, 2002, oil paint on canvas, 80 x 120 cm.
The dynamic urge to express himself in paint, which is inherently present in Lansink�s make-up, issues from a spiritual source. And this certainly also applies to his drawings. Besides painting, Lansink has continued to draw with great perseverance, thus making this facet of his work appealing for important exhibitions. In 2004 he participated in the International Biennial of Drawing in Pilsen, Czech Republic, and in an international exhibition of drawings in Poland in 2006.
In an analogous way, as most clearly displayed in his earlier work, the artist provides a visionary �explanation� of the origins of society. Those explanations are clarifications in relation to origin in the most literal sense: the relationship of colour to white; from forms to simple traces in repeated signs for movement and direction which are thus imbued with renewed significance. All colours are referred back to the non-colour: indeterminable, not monotonous white. Lines arrive from afar and point ahead. The images are elementary yet monumental. Word, image and line, everything leaves a trace. Just as all words refer back to silence.
Reading and looking, rereading and comparing � these activities lead to insight. The signs and symbols do not take on an unequivocal meaning. They consistently embrace a secret or suggestion that is approached and evoked during the painting process. �The idea is travelling�, says Wilfried Lansink in a title; elsewhere he refers to �a platform for any imagination�.
At first sight, the titles of his images and paintings resemble a poem. They consist of lines that denote paths to the location of discovery or to the terminus that his imagination has allocated them. Each work is a form of interpretation that differs from another explication, although elements do recur.
The recent paintings by Wilfried Lansink, dating from the period after the exhibition of his latest colour paintings in Galerie 16 in Hengelo in 2008, are both paintings and flat images, with subtitles in lines of poetry. This time, it is not the medium, canvas or paint that is the focus of attention but rather the idea that unites all aspects in a contained universality.
After the figuration, the informal has also been abandoned. The substance has become a mainstay of the idea.
Lansink believes that his recent work can best be assessed by attempting to view it from above, from a bird�s-eye perspective. He referred to one of his latest works as �a peripatetic existence�. The complexity is explained in the lines of the titles: there is an ancient cave as a refuge, a rhythmically beating sound, and strong roots that reach out in search of moisture. The arrow communicates inclusion, shelter and direction. Another painting provides a panoramic view of �flood gates�, with a vertical rectangle in an oval as a symbol of a keyhole. Moving from those lines to the image and back again, and then in a different direction: in this way the work generates insight.
The few consecutive images of settlements, arrows, of snakes swallowing their own tails frequently evoke the same theme. The idea travels, from here to there, through time from the past to the present. The distance reflects the hours, as one of the poetic title lines states.
In our conversation, Wilfried Lansink recalled a stay in Carnac a few years ago, where the impressive prehistoric stone structures still show traces of ancient habitation in motifs and rudimentary signs. In his art, he links the almost antediluvian signature in Brittany with the archaeology of other places, with dolmens and menhirs, with his own environment, the gouged landscape of Overijssel.
As is currently common with artists such as David Lynch, whose work was on show in the Max Ernst Museum in Br�hl this winter, and Tim Burton, this year in the MoMA in New York, Lansink switches disciplines with great ease. He works with time, with movement and space, and can assign a static artwork a visual experience. In the same way, Matthew Barney, mentioned by the New York Times as one of the most important artists of his generation, and included in an exhibition in the Boymans-Van Beuningen Museum in 2009-10, states that art is currently all about implementing and exhibiting a single theme in as many techniques and variants as possible.
Wilfried Lansink draws a bygone period into the present, dismantles the former outlook and overlays a new form. The world has shrunk, time has edged nearer.
Translation: George Hall
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