Vanden Eynde Patrick - Untitled
2007 - Collage on paper - 29,7 x 42 cm
Vanden Eynde belongs to a younger generation that in the wake of the older master Luc Tuymans (inevitably) had to search for personal artistic relevance, which for that matter did not involve a direct visual comment on the world. What Vanden Eynde and others had to do, was to find a way to create an expressive pictorial language.
The recent body of artworks implies a looking back and ahead in time. By piloting the art of painting back into a period in which it was in a ‘functional-heralding’ way at the service of (among other things) cinema, with huge painted film posters, Vanden Eynde succeeds in revealing his research in a scintillating fiction that links science to art. And as a painter he does an outstanding job, introducing science fiction objects in cardboard and polyurethane foam, which perfectly situate the concept of alienation between nostalgia and great uncertainty about the future. Contemporary people probably recognize themselves in the science fiction of the past because its reality is knocking at the door, impatiently waiting to come in. The cinematic element is reinforced by the use of green key, in which the suggestion of projection and interpretation of the work remains entirely open, and is even encouraged actively. The project Cold Fusion can be considered to be a single suite… a trip and a voyage ‘through’ images that elude us and that for that very reason urge us to think and stimulate the imagination. When the sun sets at the walls of the river Scheldt, the moon is waiting to take us into orbit around celestial bodies, science fiction objects and spheres that before long jettison the earthly reality like one of the stages of a rocket that has just been launched… ‘up’ to us.
Vanden Eynde remains one of the most interesting mid-generation artists/painters who cannot be pinned down to a lifelong recognizable style. Today, style is an instrument that no longer buttresses the relevance of a work of art (though that is still the case to a certain extent, in the sense that it allows to get grip on a work, as well as at the commercial level and with regard to the art market).
The artist himself wrote an enlightening text as a sort of thinking out loud about a series of works, not all of which have for that matter been included in this exhibition. And yes, who better than the artist himself can be ‘our’ guide for looking at, interpreting, and—indeed, why not—objectively experiencing his art.
In the iconic final scene of the film THX1138 (1971), George Lucas’s film debut, the main character (played by Robert Duvall) escapes through a hatch from a dystopian, Orwellian world. When THX1138 (the name/number of the character) reaches the surface of the world above, his silhouette stands out against an orange sun that fills the screen. As the depth of field levels out, the sunset, which characterizes the climax of the liberation, almost causes the protagonist to merge with the background.
It was this scene that inspired Vanden Eynde to use painted suns as the backdrop for three-dimensional objects. By using the motif of the (setting or rising) sun as the backdrop against which sculptural objects stand out, he succeeds in creating in these new works a dramatic cinematic effect, that also presupposes a celebration of the object.
The 3D object entitled Cold Fusion—the work that lent the exhibition its title—refers to the method of cold nuclear fusion. This method, the ‘counterpart’ of hot fusion (the energy source of the stars and thus also of the sun) is often used in science fiction as an inexhaustible energy source for interstellar spaceships. In the future it could even solve our energy problems, though this issue remains controversial. The silver image with its blue glow is reminiscent of a sort of toxic, almost magical still life, but in fact it’s an adaptation of the propulsion mechanism of an imaginary spaceship. Apart from the paintings of suns, there are two paintings on view that feature the return of two of such spacecraft. These images are inspired by the covers of sci-fi novels.
Yet another mysterious work that features similar shapes, is the 3D object Space Opera (2018). The title refers to the subgenre of the same name in science fiction literature. Enigmatic small sculptural shapes seem to hover against a green backdrop. The work is a cardboard scale model for a green-key film set, but also calls forth associations with historical models for opera and theatre sceneries. The artist deliberately refers in this instance to the shifting role of painting with regard to other media. For indeed, in the early days of film, the creation of backdrops was assigned to painters.
The imaginary vehicles also return in a number of other sculptural works in this exhibition. These are often austere, geometrical, crystal-like shapes. In some cases the artist combines these with solidified amorphous structures. The whole is usually finished with metallic paint. The shapes are like artefacts from a future world.
The work allows scope for different allegorical interpretations. The elegant choreography of wondrous, alternative structures and (dystopian) images of the future form a recent past seems to suggest a new dawn. But different shades subtly breathe through the configuration. Here, the artists walks a thin line between genuine (nostalgic) fascination and mild irony. The cinematic drama sometimes tends towards a deliberately arranged majestic theatricality. In the new exhibition Cold Fusion, this happens in an even more sophisticated way than in earlier works.