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Vanderschaeghe Chris
  -    -  Vanderschaeghe Chris

Chris Vanderschaeghe


In the paintings on panel or canvas Chris Vanderschaeghe made in the past year, as well as in his drawings on paper, faces emerge as vague presences in paint. These are not real portraits: there are no concrete references to certain persons, recognizable acquaintances or models—they’re the head of the human being. The heads have been painted in a traditional manner, as it were modelled perfectly with radically figurative brushstrokes. They were composed using the wet-on-wet technique, in thin layers, and seem to dwell in a world of their own. The eyes are often closed or covered with a hood or collar. Their mood seems subdued, and it’s as if they isolate themselves or dreamily hide in their own being. They look away and cut themselves off from the near or distant surroundings with a blindfold, cap, mask or headset.

Every feature of their face has been painted with oils, enamel or spray paint, first the rough contours with a pale base, then meticulously and with great detail, as if you could caress the hairs on the skin. And then something unexpected happens: the lovely image is distorted by a third layer of paint, with more or less abstract elements that cause disruption and distress. Vanderschaeghe makes maximum use of the freedom of the paint and the contrast with the ultimate layer he rather quickly applies is great. Drippings, dots, tags, flecks or wrinkles move and react with the layers underneath, like traces of graffiti that disturb the figurative character of the work. Attention to exact detail is disrupted as it were coincidentally. And whereas in first instance the aesthetical was defining, the attention quickly turns towards the experimental.

Vanderschaeghe’s latest portraits or landscapes are in fact essentially carriers of emotions. The feelings we’re all familiar with and we all experience, about how we sometimes let ‘things’ happen, how we sometimes let our life drift, how we shirk responsibilities or turn a blind eye to potential problems. The work actually isn’t a reprimand—it’s more like a recurring reflex with regard to our everyday observations. How some people prevent themselves from growing and changing, or how others hamper or spoil development. Broken Dreams, No Problem or The Look are titles that can steer the dynamics of the narrative, but at the same time Vanderschaeghe uses noncommittal titles such as The Pillow, Girl with Flower or Mask.

Recently, Vanderschaeghe increasingly started to use lighter shades—his palette evolved from lots of black to orange, green, pastel. For pictorial reasons, he sometimes leaves various elements next to each other on the canvas: traces of charcoal or of his palette knife, an irritating arrow in mid-air, glossy and matt areas. A certain tactility appears. There’s more space, more breathing room in the recent works, with their format varying. And though he prefers a width/height of 1 metre or 1.2 metres, he decides on the format and the colours when he starts on the work. Each work evolves as it were spontaneously. And appeals to us. Subtly and invitingly.

Written by Els Wuyts – June 2021


How does an artist translate his deepest feelings onto canvas? In what ways does his state of mind influence his work? It will take many forms. The work cannot be separated from the state of being of an artist at this or that moment. It will affect the way he applies the paint, the colors he uses, their shading, the harmony that may or may not emerge from them. The composition perhaps, the placement of its components. The whole of a work, its tone, will often be a result of a specific feeling he had in making it, insofar as he leaves room in his practice for impulsive actions. This is not always the case. For Chris Vanderschaeghe, it influences his entire work. The background color, or lack thereof, will be determined primarily by his mood of the day, perhaps even the degree to which he gives his horizontally rendered paint free rein on the canvas, as if by feeling. But more than that, he looks for a specific emotion in the models he chooses, often random passers-by in the constant stream of images that reach us through television and the Internet. They will rarely look at you, his characters. Perhaps because of the kind of pudeur with which the artist presents his own world of feelings to us. They look away, sometimes dreamy, sometimes determined. Sometimes pondering, dreamy, sometimes extremely focused. The pudeur sometimes prompts the artist to deceive the viewer. Trying to divert our attention from the essence behind the work. By applying a surprising stripe to an image of a tree, for example, or by dotting a work with strange spheres and surfaces. You don’t just put your soul on display. It requires a viewer who wants to be active. The wealth of feelings that we as humans can experience also means that for Chris there is no limit to the way in which he entrusts these to the canvas. You will recognize series, working with a common feeling, also between the series you will be able to perceive certain common features, but in essence they are snapshots of a state of mind. The conflict between the image that was created and the naked emotion that is concealed within it will sometimes leave the viewer somewhat orphaned, directionless, especially in the works of recent months, where the black, unfathomable background removes all possible references to help us focus our gaze on the emotion in the gaze or in the pose of the person portrayed. The viewer is invited to unleash his own emotions on them, in all their possible guises.

Painting, decorative and special techniques – Urban Academy, Oostende
Painting and ceramics – Urban Academy, Oostende

Group exhibition ‘Terminus is a state of mind’ – Oostende
Group exhibition – TaLe Art Gallery, Vlierzele
Group exhibition Kunstbiënnale – Leuven
Group exhibition ‘Heal’ – Les Docks Village, Marseille (FR)
Solo exhibition Rivoli, CAPS – Brussel.
Group exhibition Biënnale Hedendaagse Kunst – RC Aalter, Aalter
Group exhibition ART-OBJECTS – Kortrijk
Group exhibition ‘Slighty out of focus’ (met Hans Defer, Matthieu Lobelle) – Lier
Group exhibition – Rosalux, the Berlin based art space, Berlijn (DE)
Group exhibition ‘This is Belgian’ – Galerie Dessers, Hasselt.
Solo exhibition – CC de Brouckere, Torhout.
Group exhibition ‘Try and Figure this One out’ – CAS, Oostende.
Group exhibition ARTURE#11 – Herzele.
Group exhibition STart pARTy – Kruisruimte, Eindhoven (NL)
Group exhibition PORTRAITS – Galerie du Comble, Virton
Group exhibition Biennale Hedendaagse Kunst – RC Aalter, Aalter
Solo exhibition –  Galerie ‘TZIEN, Mechelen
Solo exhibition Ruimte 34 – CAPS, Antwerpen
Group exhibition – Cecilia Jaime Gallery, Gent
Group exhibition – CAS, Zottegem
Group exhibition WINTERREISE – CAPS, Oostende
Group exhibition ‘All at sea’ – CAPS, Oostende
Group exhibition Biënnale Hedendaagse Kunst – RC Aalter, Aalter
Group exhibition ‘Elapsed time’ – Art Gallery Decrauw, Brussel
Exhibition 10 jaar Kunstenaar v/d maand – Zebrastraat, Gent
Group exhibition ‘Hotel Vlaanderen’ Stad onder stroom – Diksmuide
Group exhibition ‘Faces and Places’ – Gallery Decrauw, Oostende
Group exhibition ‘Uit de marge’, project met Outsiders (organisatie Wanderart) – Venetiaanse Gaanderijen Oostende
Group exhibition SUMMER – Gallery Roberto Polo, Brussel
Kunstenaar v/d maand Kunstplatform – Zebrastraat, Gent
Solo exhibition ‘Strange weather’ – MEC Staf Versluys, Bredene
Solo exhibition ‘Experiment’ – Romeins Archeologisch Museum, Oudenburg
Group exhibition – Galerie G14, Gent & Galerie Pinsart, Brugge
‘In Oostende kan het waaien 2’ – Venetiaanse Gaanderijen, Oostende
Solo exhibition ‘There’s no point’
Group exhibition ‘Verjaardag van de kunst’ & ‘Ten minste waterpas’ – Galerie Pinsart, Brugge
Solo exhibition – iD eST, Ichtegem & CJK, Gent & Galerie Montanus, Diksmuide.
Group exhibition ‘Suspicous landscapes’ & Kunstbeurs – The Border lineart 2011 Gent, Galerie Pinsart, Brugge.
Duo exhibition & Art Fair – The Border 2010 Gent, Galerie Pinsart, Brugge
IMAGO, travelling expo
Duo exhibition – Galerie Pinsart, Brugge
2008 – 1996
Several expo’s Oostende, Veurne, Brugge

2015: PBK’15, Harelbeke
2010: Laureate IMAGO 2010
2009: PBK’09 1st mentioned, Harelbeke
2008: Laureate AVF Painting, Koksijde
2006: PBK’06, Harelbeke + Final laureate Curieus, Ieper
2005: Laureate Curieus, Oudenburg + Arnoevoo, Bredene
2003: Honarable notification AVF, Bredene