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Adelheid De Witte

Related features The paintings of Gent-based artist Adelheid De

Witte thread a fine line between fact and fiction.
15 things to Taking as starting point magazine clippings she
do in cuts out and collects, the thirty-something artist
Belgium this
creates imaginary and surrealist interiors that play
with elements of space, geometry and collages.
“Only time
With a solo show of never-before-seen-
will tell how works opening in her atelier this weekend, we
I’ll fit in.”
caught up with the talent-on-the-rise, had a snoop
Ugo Woatzi
on bridging around her studio and talked everything from
the collecting images to other Belgian artists she loves.
spatial and

Written by Nicholas Lewis , published on april 13, 2015 in Art / Portfolio reports
“Running a
label was
means of
coping with
EE Tapes’

points to
pick up a
copy of The
→ ‘One step closer to reality’ (Oil on linen, 70x90cm)

What would you say is the starting point of your work?

Imagination in the first place. "e mental state when it is possible to
represent a hypothetical object, situation or environment. To express
what is not necessarily there, but might be under differing conditions.
Imagination not only plays an important role in my way of
understanding things, it also allows me to perceive things in a different
way, offering alternative perspectives. As a visual artist, I am playing
around with fictional situations, spaces, objects and characters.

Is there something very specific you’re hoping it

expresses and communicates?
"e work questions habitual pa$erns of response and tends to challenge
what is considered as ‘normal’. It is my opinion that common reactions
o%en lie beyond the range of our immediate rational control. "e painted
subjects are not always that obvious. I don’t expect the compositions to
be understood, on the contrary. However, by inviting the viewer to move
into a space of confusion and speculation, I hope to make it clear that
our perception is a very particular way of seeing and processing things
and therefore o%en leads to misconceptions. Titles as ‘one step closer to
reality’ or ‘the entrance of the Mountain Resort seemed very promising’
are referring to this idea.
→ ‘The Entrance of the Mountain Resort seemed very Promising’ (Oil on linen,

Can you talk to us about your approach in general?

What characterizes your work? How do you actually
work on a piece, from start to finish?
My visual language contains several contradictions. Past and present,
fantasy and reality, activity and inactivity, interior and exterior,
seriousness and playfulness appear next to each other. "e represented
scenes could be of any time and any space, which is reinforced by the
absence of human beings. ‘Virtual climbing, level 2’ for instance shows a
large mountain mural and a playground equipment. Vague court line
markings and traces on the floor suggest previous activity. "e wholly
enclosed space creates the impression of both wideness and restriction.

"ese paradoxical elements are put together through a rather extended

process. In advance of painting, I would call myself a collector of images.
My studio is filled with hundreds of magazines. I take the time to check
out the many photographs and sort them by theme: architecture,
interiors, nature, and objects. I combine them into non-permanent
collages that form the starting point to paint. In the end, the final piece
always differs from the original idea. During the whole process of adding
and removing paint, I like to be surprised, to surrender to the o%en
absurd and ironic associations I am coming up with.
→ ‘Virtual Climbing, Level 2’ (Oil on linen, 100x120cm)

How would you say the works you’ll be showing at the

exhibition fit in with your wider body of work? Were
any works created specifically for the show?
‘Guest Rooms’ unites several works created during the last couple of
months. "e series will be shown in public for the first time. I like to
create multiple paintings around the same subject ma$er. "e more I was
(and am) exploring this particular theme of guest rooms and hotels, the
greater the variety of perspectives on the idea. ‘Promotional Room
(Mountain View only if Window Shu$ers are Open)’ for example
embodies the deceiving information a hotel catalogue provides, whereas
‘Guarded 24/7’ inquires the o%en irrational longing for safety people
tend to have when being abroad. Working on the same subject also
allows me to explore different compositions and formats and to select the
more impactful ones.
→ ‘Promotional Room (Mountain View only if Window Shutters are Open)’ Oil on
linen, 30x40cm
→ ‘Guarded 24-7’ (Oil on linen, 100x120cm)

If I am not mistaken, the exhibition will be taking place

in your studio. Can you talk to us about the space?
"e studio is situated on the first floor of a former boys school. It’s a
luminous, old classroom with large windows looking out over the central
court. "e building is impressive because of the grand staircase and the
long inner hallways. Although several established artists are working
here on a daily basis, there is an overall quietness at all times, which is

Can you talk to us about the various different people

involved in the show? Who did what to make it
Moniek Bucquoye (Design expert), Siegrid Demy$enaere (Founder
DAMN Magazine), Jan Hoet jr. (Curator & former owner of Hoet-Bekaert
gallery) and Chris De Backer (Creative entrepreneur) sat down together
on an evening and masterminded my show. All of a sudden I had
deadline and an audience.

Because they all have their particular expertise and fields of interest, this
works very stimulating and refreshing to me.

Can you talk to us about how you see your own work?
How would you describe it?
As a life-long exploration of how far I can and will be able to stretch the
concepts and compositions of my interest. "e work reflects my own
visual perceptions and associations and therefore feels very natural. On
the other hand, the paintings o%en surprise me in a way, so they seem
both recognizable and undecipherable.

Nature, and plants more specifically, figure consistently

in your work. How do you explain this?
Several elements are recurring. Abandoned rooms or minimal
architecture. Windows and hallways. Recreational equipment, chairs,
sun loungers, animals, planes, houses and – indeed – nature. ‘Guest
Rooms’ includes backgrounds of mountains, forests and palm trees. In
the previous series I produced several pieces involving plants and trees
growing in non-expected places. I am not preoccupied with reproducing
landscapes. My preference rather inclines towards the ambiguous
relationship we have towards nature: production and reproduction,
authenticity and fakeness.
→ ‘Palm Valley’ (Oil on linen, 50x70cm)

What is your preferred medium for exhibiting your

work? Book? Solo show? Group exhibition?
In the past I was mainly participating in group exhibitions. I have found
these enriching, especially when created around common themes, like
‘Alpine Club Boechout’. "is collective exhibition showed work of artists
such as Bram Kinsbergen, John Van Oers, Koen Broucke, Charlo$e
Lybeer and Stefan Peters, united by the idea of suggestion, infinity,
mountains and landscapes. For a long time I didn’t feel ready to come out
with my work in a solo show, until now.
Who would you say was instrumental in shaping your
No one in particular.

How do you see yourself fit into the country’s

contemporary art scene?
My work contains several elements some people like to call typically
Belgian, referring to the style of painting, the use of colors or the o%en
surreal compositions.

What would you say to the person who sees in your

work a very Belgian DNA, somewhat of a very Belgian
I was based in an art studio in Barcelona several years ago. On a regular
basis people would ask me questions about this well known Belgian
Surrealism: ‘What is it with you Belgians, are you all mad?’ Surrealism as
an artistic movement came into existence a%er World War I, at a point
where a lot of failures converged and former hope and ideals were
contested. I grew up in Passendale, in a house overviewing the meadows
that once formed the ba$lefields during the "ird Ba$le of Ypres.
"ousands of men died in this ‘valley of suffering’. In my childhood we
used to play on Tyne Cot Cemetery and the surroundings, having much
fun pretending we were soldiers fighting each other. Later on, when
growing a bit older and truly realizing what had happened there, all of
this made an immense impression. I have never rationally decided to add
a surrealistic touch to my artwork, but the longing to bring the real and
the imaginary together could refer to my former hometown.
→ ‘Very Nice and Luxurious Corridor but too Dark’ (Oil on linen, 30x40cm)

Which Belgian artists do you follow, look at for

inspiration? Either from the past or the present.
My influences are first and foremost the things I observe. But I’ve always
loved artists who succeed in influencing our sense of time and space.
David Claerbout for example, who challenges the nature of temporality
by combining still and moving images. Upcoming photographer Griet
Van de Velde also succeeds in capturing moments and spaces in time that
seem indefinite. Pieces by Dylan Lynch (Still House Group) and Roeland
Tweelinckx are striking in the way they manipulate our perception of
everyday objects, furniture and constructing materials. Furthermore I
respect painter Stefan Peters. He displays nature in a very refined
manner and disorganizes our sense of depth and dimension.
→ ‘Mountain Park Archery Center’ (Oil on linen, 100x120cm)

On a more personal note, how does your everyday

inform your work? And what do your parents, your
family, think of what you do?
My mother, who is a musician, introduced me to playing music on a very
early age. Most of the time, music and instruments surrounded me.
Instead of listening to the concerts or learning how to compose myself, I
was drawing everything I saw. As long as I can remember I have been
observing what was happening around me, the architectural lines and
forms, the way people act and the systems of society. One could describe
me as a rather critical person, not taking things for granted. My longing
for contrasts and opposing situations is also remarkable. I travel to Costa
Rica, which is all about nature, and – on purpose – immediately fly to
New York a%erwards. I love to spend the day with my daughter playing
games and dive into the nightlife within the same 24 hours. I adore
seasons, preferably a cold winter and a warm summer, dividing the year
into two different parts. All of this somehow has an impact my artwork.

What were your first introductions to visual arts?

"e Art Academy of Ypres. I was 10 years old and very much looking
forward to the first class. Despite the enthusiasm of the adorable teacher
I remember being truly disappointed by the fact we were doing
handicra%s instead of making artworks.
What did you study, and what are your current
I have a master’s degree in Philosophy & Ethics and an extra degree in
Contemporary Art and Psychology. Besides painting (5 days a week on
an average basis) I am a lector at Artevelde Hogeschool in Visual Arts &

→ ‘Mountain Sculptor Class’ (Oil on linen, 80x100cm)

What are you up to in the months to come?

From May 1 to July 5, some of my work will be featured at PASS. "is
concept, brought up by Chris Martin and Jan Hoet Junior, points out a
route passing unique venues of art in the middle of the green hills of
Mullem, Huise, Wannegem and Lede. "e landscape will be ‘taken’ by
artists as Dirk Braeckman, "ierry De Cordier, Ma$hieu Ronsse, Michaël
Borremeans, David Claerbout and Alex Perweiler, just to name a few.

→ ‘Majestic Mountain View Honeymoon Cabin’ (Oil on linen, 80x100cm)

→ Guest rooms

Saturday 18th April (14h00 to 18h00) and Sunday 19th April (11h00 to

In the artist’s studio: Sint-"eresiastraat 3 (9000)




GHENT (264) ↦ PAINTING (25) ↦ PASS (2) ↦




“Only time will tell Goeun Choi aka “I have three Immersion into the
how I’ll fit in.” Ugo Chego’s patchwork chickens, it’s unknown: Marijke
Woatzi on bridging elements and located by the De Roover’s DIY
the corporal, punchy confessions Atomium and my visual activism
spatial and sexual neighbor is the
King.” Inside Martin
Belou’s studio

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