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"The vanishing point"

Series of drawings 2017-...

Ink on paper - 210 x 297 mm / 841 x 594 mm


The vanishing point is a representative gap that organizes the visual field.
Study of this singularity revolutionized art in the fifteenth century. Further reflection
The vanishing point is a series on which the drawing and the background are studied. the subject is the form of several houses. The motif of the background and the houses themselves is that of a wood structure. Through the use of this motif in both background and subject, a tension is created visually. The subject and background seem to overlap. This creates an optical illusion. The  drawings are made with fine black markers on different sizes of paper.

Vanishing point


In a culture where images are gaining ground over words as a means of communication, visual education sometimes remains surprisingly meagre. Critical learning processes that question our way of looking are rare, or hopelessly behind the social reality of the power of images. This makes images powerful mental tools in the hands of those who know how to create them. That capacity remains rather limited for many of us. One would begin to wonder whether this lack of a real artistic education is not a conscious strategy. Or does that smell too much like a conspiracy theory? 

Ask a casual passer-by to draw a house. He or she will often get no further than the simple combination of square and triangle, with one or more blocks representing windows or a chimney. This kind of drawing is often experienced as naive, because it is based on the word-for-word cliché of what a house should be: a rectangular room with a saddleback roof on top. A secondary school pupil is usually only taught one tool to overcome this kind of simplistic approach: linear perspective. I can still see my amiable drawing teacher doing it: to the left and right of the chalkboard he would dot two points from which all the lines of a house seemed to start, or which seemed to bundle all the lines of that house. This was a trick that, as teenagers, seemed to us to be the panacea for conjuring up a believable roomy house. To be honest: many of us never developed our insight further than that ready-made solution, even though it was lacking in many ways.

Since the Renaissance, the 'vanishing point' has remained the sight with which we estimate space, while a horizon is never straight, while we look not with one, but with two eyes, while our view of the world is now full of obstacles, while the view we are supplied with is seldom pure, but tarnished and distorted, from second or third hand.

Jonas Vansteenkiste has made questioning ideology and culturally determined visions of 'the house' his artistic praxis. In a series of laborious drawings, he unsettles our view. What is foreground and background, what exactly turns out to be top and bottom, or what is called surface, matter, decoration or space, he literally makes disappear in the series 'vanishing point'. He obsessively draws the decorative aspect of a wood print, with veins and knots, into the front and back plans. The result is an ambiguous abstraction, which with a little effort still just allows one to recognise a house. Ornamentation takes the place of structure and spatiality, until it almost takes our breath away. His weapon is far from contemporary. Digital tools are not involved. The dizziness comes about in a surprisingly traditional way, with pen, ink and a monk's patience. Vanishing point seems to be an intensive, ritualistic exercise to free the drawing from the satisfying illusion of reality. And in one movement he frees the house from the dreamed illusion of safety.


Curator: Frederik Van Laere


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