New York

Philippe Vandenberg

Denise Cade-Art Prospect, Inc.

Belgian artist Philipe Vandenberg reveals in his work a keen understanding of the importance of poetic suggestion. His paintings come across as objects infused with a special energy, and they yield a strong expressive impact. There is more to these active, multilayered surfaces than their complex interplay of color and form and their striking structural integrity. While they are essentially abstract—in this case, involved in the dynamic union of process and perceptual product—the manifold associations they evoke help them to elude the cocoon of overt formalism. Vandenberg succeeds in creating paintings that are alive in an imaginative sense. The slashing strokes so prominent in the thick, cascading layers of pigment activate the works’ content. In its plastic qualities—the direction of the strokes, the articulation of the shapes—Vandenberg’s work generates strong emotional responses. The act of painting becomes inextricably connected with a kind of story-telling, and lends itself easily to metaphorical interpretation.

These untitled paintings are suffused with the presence of nature. They are built up, passage by passage, into a complex rhythmical fabric, yet they maintain a healthy balance between order and chaos, design and chance. In one of the works here, the manner in which the white areas blanket the rest of the composition is suggestive of a field of snow that in some parts covers everything below it and in others has almost all been scraped away to reveal bits of the land as well as manmade constructions. In another work dotted with white areas, pictures of cliffs, of impenetrable surfaces and cascading heights, come to mind. Elsewhere, white areas can suggest a body of water or sea of clouds. The black and colored motifs, in turn, carry figurative connotations, recalling a man here, or a snake or the sun there. Vandenberg—is a fascinating interpreter of the “more is more” sensibility that has dominated so much of the abstract art produced in the ’80s. He articulates space and imagery in such a way that his paintings take on an intensely personal, dreamlike quality.

Ronny Cohen