Bernard Villers - La couleur manifeste


13/09/2018 - 28/10/2018

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La couleur manifeste, the exhibition of works by Bernard Villers at the Botanique, asserts the poetic and sensory force of colour. Colour is certainly manifest: rather than merely present, it is the very subject of his work. Unhindered by any realistic representation, it is free to tell its own story and to provoke emotional responses. As soon as you enter the exhibition, the gaze takes in the whole space, creating a singular reading path that brings together works that are sometimes thirty years apart. Though they may differ in terms of intentions and ideas, all interrogate the power of colour. As you begin to move, you will distinguish the effects on the surfaces of the works when a Prussian blue is juxtaposed with a Senegal yellow, or an English red is pitted against a Veronese green. At closer range, you become aware of the pictorial medium and the incidence of light upon it.

After training in monumental painting at the École nationale supérieure des Arts visuels of La Cambre in the department headed by Paul Delvaux and later by Jo Delahaut, Bernard Villers continued his pictorial research, and explored the medium through its traditional components: canvas, stretchers, frame. For example, he chose light cotton canvases, and played with their transparency to intensify or mute colours. He then established a series of well-defined constraints which influenced the conditions and the processes of his work. Drawing on significant figures from the arts, literature and philosophy, he created for himself a family of artists and authors to inspire and nurture his approach: Schwitters, Malevich, Barthes, Pessoa and Perec, to name but a few. During these exploratory years, he linked his art to everyday life. The everyday appears in his painting though the use of objets trouvés such as scrapers, crates, palettes, chair seats and dismantled drawers diverted from their original purpose.

His explorations of the medium led him to consider both the front and the back, but also the edge and the possibilities it offered for cutting, folding, angling or piercing. These practical expedients create a dialogue with the space and expand the scope of the medium, providing simple means of multiplying the ways of perceiving colour. Pieces in relief, slightly detached or placed at an angle to the wall, on the ground or in suspension create a parallax effect, inviting the viewing to move around the space to capture fresh aspects of a work. Subject to the play of light and shade, to the effects of reflexion of (and in) the immediate environment, these pieces stir new emotions.

Bernard Villers chose painting in the way he would later choose the book. Colours and words thus intersect, in a continuous to-and-fro. There is more: the painting and the book furnish ways to read colour and to see words. When setting up Le Remorqueur publications in 1976, Villers deliberately adopted a position on the fringes of the art market, along with artists for whom the book is a medium in itself, and who overturn existing principles. An object does not need to be unique to be a work of art, it has become multiple and serial, accessible to a wider public.

In this exhibition, the works unfurl, clearly more complex on a second reading than at first sight. Nothing is given from the outset, yet everything is laid out with simplicity and clarity. The materials are deliberately chosen for their properties, the gestures are intelligible and few in number, the decisions are uncompromising. There is no evasion: what you see is what there is, the constraints are visible, with formidable openness, unlike some abstract paintings in which the process counts less than the matter. This is what gives this body of work its undeniable topicality. Though it is poetic, it is nonetheless rigorous, and while it speaks for itself it is a great privilege to hear Bernard Villers interpret it.

Cécile Vandernoot
Juin 2018

Praktische Infos

  • Botanique
    • Rue Royale 236
    • 1210 Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode
  • Preis
    • Senior: 4.5 €
    • Enfants: 3.5 €
    • Demandeurs d'emploi: 3.5 €
    • Normal: 5.5 €
    • Jeunes: 4.5 €
  • Öffnungszeiten
    • Mittwoch  12:00 - 20:00
    • Donnerstag  12:00 - 20:00
    • Freitag  12:00 - 20:00
    • Samstag  12:00 - 20:00
    • Sonntag  12:00 - 20:00