I am made and remade continually
Focusing on the transient aspect of life and of the ephemerality of our present moment, Vervaet creates an organic universe which draws a parallel between the ever-evolving state of nature and our constantly changing desires and views of the world. As the natural world adapts to new conditions, so does the human state, allowing us to rebuild ourselves in a multitude of ways. In this new body of works, the artist examines the notion of water as something that is both concrete and ever-moving, which is itself a metaphor for the mind and for the fluidity of life. These works are arranged in the gallery to stimulate memory in different ways, where works appear in different spaces in slightly varied states. Playing on the ambiguity of organic and synthetic materials, the artist combines clay with steel and coloured glass to create cavernous wall-works. He also transforms materials through a casting process, turning a branch into a bronze column or a tropical plant into a pavilion.
In the largest room of the gallery, a flowing curtain covers the walls and creates a fluid space in which the artworks float on an uncertain surface. Each work is created through a sculptural process of working raw clay into a rectangular steel frame, creating motifs which resemble dense vegetation or rushing water. This surface is then covered in a pane of coloured glass, which obscures the sculptural surface and implicates the reflection of the viewer into the work. In certain pieces, dichroic glass is used, changing colour depending on where one is standing in relationship to the work. In these works, it is one’s viewpoint which determines reality. This subjectivity and the presence of the human body is omnipresent in Vervaet’s work. Upon further investigation of the clay, we can notice that each form is linked to a movement of the artist’s hand coming into direct contact with the material. There are traces, pokes, and grabs, all forming a language which defines Vervaet’s practice. The dimensions of the human body are demonstrated in the largest work in the room, which is the height of the artist with his arm stretched up, and the width of his body with both arms held out.
Upon leaving the curtained perimeter, we find ourselves in a small room, confronted with one sole sculpture which dialogues with another work which is placed in the courtyard. A human-sized branch extends out of the ground, defying gravity and insisting upon its own verticality. This column twists and turns, showing its knots and bark. Upon further inspection, we notice that it is actually made of bronze, with flecks of colour, gold, and white areas. It stands as if it was another being, ready to enter into a dialogue with us. What is usually a familiar entity, found on trees or lying on the forest floor, becomes foreign, taking on an architectural status, challenging us in its stature.
Leading downstairs, a metallic imprint in the wall appears as a memory of a gesture- a finger tracing into malleable material, the visualization of a movement. This trace guides us to the last two rooms, as if the artist was leading us personally. These two smaller spaces communicate as mirror images of each other, evoking time as a fluid substance. Two pairs of works are shown, allowing us to perceive the second space we enter as a sort of deja-vu, in which we have the experience of seeing something for a second time. We remain aware of slight changes between the two experiences, as well as the passage of time in which the viewing experience becomes both separate and simultaneous. Dialoguing with the glass pieces on the walls, large circular sculptures on the ground emit mysterious and dark noises. These sound compositions, created by Cel Crabeels, emit the sounds of an earthquake, of shifting tectonic plates, and of black holes. The unfamiliar noises take us to an unspecified place in time and space, creating a rhythm which draws us into the artist’s universe. This universe is familiar yet hard to grasp, existing in our minds and shaped by our own viewpoint.