Discover more from (de)conceptualise
A retrospective of (de)
Because I've never actually explained where it all started in this newsletter
Last weekend (de)conceptualise was at the Vrijpalais art market and while it was a slow weekend, the two days were full of great conversations, feedback and the chance to meet a handful of great artists. It’s also not everyday that I have the opportunity— and space — to showcase my work to passersby, explain the process behind each piece and the main ‘ethos’ behind (de). When thinking about this, I’ve also realised that in this newsletter I’ve never really talked about the reason for existence of (de) and what also what the name stands for. So, let’s jump into it:
The birth of (de)conceptualise, or (de) for short
(de)conceptualise started as a form of escapism. An escape into the analog nature of printmaking, while running away from the highly digital work I was doing in my design practice but also an escape from the theoretical work I was doing and embracing a more hands-on and explorative approach.
(de) was influenced by my design practice, particularly by what I was reading at the time regarding critical design, speculative design and other ways design can be used to subvert and critique the status quo. So the use of the prefix ‘de-’ seemed a natural choice as what I wanted to achieve with the work was to deconstruct and unpack some of the concepts, ideas and things that mark our world today and that might be shaping also our imagination tomorrow. In fact, the initial linocut series that marked the beginning of (de) used a single word as a starting point: Power, Worldview, Future, Alternative,…
From Linocuts to subversion
While the gateway drug for printmaking and graphic art was linocut (mostly because of the ease of doing it in my own home without buying expensive equipment), during the last couple of years I’ve abandoned linoleum as my preferred weapon of choice and expanded my approach to include collage, canvas, wheatpasting, stencil, a scanner (one of my preferred ways to manipulate an image) and more recently screenprinting.
Each medium offers its own limitations and qualities, but what unites them all — and consequently shapes (de)’s approach — is that these techniques have an amateurish and DIY essence. There’s something to say about an approach that allows both someone without any art background or technical ability and a fine artist to express themselves while using the same exact tools.
Another key feature of this amateurism and DIY approaches is in the way the image itself is created. I’ve never been much of a drawing person so the idea of using found images and repurposing them to create new work fits perfectly. The artist collective Faile puts it wonderfully:
We’ve always been attracted to collage, appropriation, found work and ephemera from the last hundred years. Seeing those things that are lost in some random advert page from a magazine 50 years ago, and sort of tying a little piece of that to something that is happening today…
In the end, one of the best things of showcasing my work during the last weekend was being able to look at the wall and see the progression of (de) throughout the years while sharing that story with others.