8th Jan – 6th Feb 2021

From Jan 8 to Feb 6, 2021, Galerie Thomas Fuchs holds its second solo exhibition titled "People" of Belgian artist Jan De Vliegher (born in 1964 in Bruges, BE; lives and works in Bruges, BE).

Jan De Vliegher's works appear to the viewer like random image fragments. In these immediate moments, the artist dissociates himself from the simple illustrative function of painting. Jan De Vliegher is less concerned with the motif than with the act of painting itself. Working in series opens up the possibility for the artist to explore the artistic form and the aesthetic composition in his painting.

For his latest series "People" Jan De Vliegher depicts scenes of various groups of people on the famous St. Mark's Square in Venice. Here, tourists, ice-cream sellers, or locals go about their everyday life. They take vacation photos, drink coffee, feed pigeons, or make their way through the crowds. In these depictions, the artist uses a slightly elevated perspective. The viewer is supposedly looking down on the square from a surrounding building. The groups of figures are spread across the entire canvas, at times even cropped or in mid-motion. Sometimes a figure runs into the picture, sometimes it almost disappears at the edge of the painting. The reality that Jan De Vliegher shows us is and remains in a constant state of change.

His painting technique adds to this effect. Jan De Vliegher paints wet-on-wet with quick brushstrokes. This way, he creates paintings that appear realistic from a distance but transform into abstract forms the closer the viewer approaches. Paint drips and splatters indicate the speed with which the artist applies the paint. Although the act of painting itself is quite quick, the artist's preparation time is comparatively long. As soon as Jan De Vliegher has developed a concrete idea, he takes one or more photos of the motif and then edits them on the computer. Like the old masters did with their sketches, Jan De Vliegher uses these printed photos as references during the painting process. However, before he starts painting, he prepares the colors so that, in the end, he "only" has to reach for the brush.

Color becomes the carrier of light and ambiance in Jan De Vliegher's work. A luminous aura emanates from the paintings. The supposed light seems to radiate from within the painting, illuminating the room. In some works of this series, a bright sun shines on the square, causing a high-contrast shadow to be cast by the figures. Combined with the elevated perspective and bold brushstrokes, the shadow adds a dynamic quality to the painting. In other works, however, the light seems more subdued, the contrasts milder, as if clouds darken the sky. The groups of figures are loosened up by the pigeons, which have almost become a tourist attraction themselves in St. Mark's Square, and give the works a humorous punchline.

In his paintings, Jan De Vliegher embarks on a search for a harmonious and balanced composition while exploring the threshold to abstraction. This abstract character of his works stimulates the perception of the viewer, who is encouraged to think further about what he sees. The artist's focus is not on a realistic representation, but on the depiction of a reality that is based on the artist’s own experience. Through the medium of painting, Jan De Vliegher captures his experiences and brings them to the canvas, where they can be witnessed by the viewer.

Jan De Vliegher, People, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 133 x 200 cm, Galerie Thomas Fuchs
People, 2020
acrylic on canvas, 133 x 200 cm

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