Artistic Approach: 5 axioms

The End Justifies the Means (and the Media)

At first glance, each message has its ideal medium. Some messages will work better in photos, others in feature films, others in paintings, poetry or installation.

You can limit yourself to a single medium, and specialize as much as possible in it. Personally I have a particular interest for video, photography and sound (or music). But even within this context I prefer to be more eclectic in the means to get the message across better, even if I am a bad poet and I cannot draw.

The public has been used to very intense communications since the 1960s. The advertising and political messages are, on the one hand, undone of any superfluous ornament and, on the other hand, filled with subliminal, seductive elements. Their dubious and penetrating allusions are effective, and (above all) disseminated in cross media. To touch the soul of the public in 2020, you have to catch all of the spectator’s senses.

Every Process is sacred

Each work of art (and each communication) is based on a process, voluntary or involuntary, conscious or unconscious. This process is the basis of individual works and the work of the artist as a whole.

From the moment an artist has chosen / started a process for an individual work, he must respect it, assume his own choices and accept their result.

Say What You Have to Say

The idea of art for art is misleading. Each communication, therefore each art, takes place in the context of the society in which it is expressed. Inevitably, it transmits a bundle of values (and prejudices). The idea of art for art, or individual expression in the romantic sense, is attractive, but generally results in conformism. I respect this vision, but I can’t avoid using art as a means of explaining my ideas and beliefs.

However, everyone has the right (the duty?) to interpret the works the way they wish.

We Live in an Historical Context (or: the language is made to play with it)

As many 20th century semiologists said: “each expression is necessarily intertextual”. It would be unfortunate not to play with the symbols, icons and other signifiers that our ancestors already used. I like to put them in a new context and to rejoice in the unexpected results.

All is relative

Each opinion, each vision, even each religion is relative, just like the works I produce and the axioms I have just written. Nowhere does this imply disrespect: we can respect something that is not perfect (otherwise we cannot respect anything).

The world is ruled by chance. I see no need to exclude chance and its imperfections either in the creation or in the representation of my works. Nothing is fixed.

Some artists that have been important for me

  • Erik Satie, for the way he ignored the standards and the rigor with which he pursued his own principles
  • John Cage, because he taught me to accept the world as it is
  • Frederick Rzewski, because he taught me not to accept the world as it is
  • Joris De Laet, because he taught me the importance of processes in art
  • José Saramago, for the same reason
  • Charly Morrow who taught me that every event can be bigger. Or smaller.
  • The Logos Foundation that blurs the border between sculpture, event and concert
  • Bill Viola, for the reintegration of an aesthetic sense and storytelling in an art form that used to be purely experimental
  • La Fura dels Baus that showed me that it is always possible to send a message in a stronger and more intense way
  • Robert Rauschenberg, for the strong expression in his work from symbols and media of his time
  • Marcel Broodthaers, because he was looking for the most effective means to get his messages across and because he was playing with intrinsic meaning in the media he used
  • The Flemish Primitives for having developed their language, as well as the composers of the Ars Nova
  • My wife Gerda Van Damme, no comment
  • Louise Bourgeois, whose spider always comes to my mind when I think of Bilbao
  • Marcel Duchamp, of course
  • Boris Vian, for his versatility, his humor and his vision of the world