Middelheim / Middelheim Art Festival – between 5pm and 8pm.
Kanaal - 4pm
Angel Vergara + Joel Benzakin
“ … I mainly wanted to create some kind of mobile studio, to live inside of the canvas, to be the theme, the act, and the canvas. I was thinking about Velasquez' Las Meniñas or Courbet’s Atelier.”
Axel Vervoordt Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Angel Vergara in which the artist continues his exploration into the power of the visual image. The exhibition features several large canvases coated with smeared charcoal that are the result of an on-going series of performances by his alter ego, “Straatman”.
Straatman works in public while hidden beneath a white sheet, a concept that both attracts and keeps the viewer at a distance. The artist — performing and creating in anonymity — places himself in the centre, but remains protected. Not being able to see well what is going on outside of his shelter, Straatman is inspired by his muted senses and imagination. He sketches on canvas whatever he can hear or observe around him, which is a way to give the audience a spontaneous participatory part in the creation process.
By turning into Straatman, Vergara appears like a living sculpture. The painter is literally within the white canvas, which he uses as a movable studio that he can carry around wherever he wants to go. Straatman is a character, a tool, and a work of art. The sketches later serve as a basis for a more elaborate and finished work.
The canvases at this exhibition were originally completely black. During his performance, Straatman moves and sketches, rubbing the black surface off the canvas. While he moulds his drawing, he simultaneously stains the white sheet of his ghost-like figure in the process.
Straatman first appeared in front of the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1988. Ever since, he has been popping up in various places from Antwerp to Tokyo, both announced and by surprise. Leading up to this exhibition, Straatman turned up in several locations around Antwerp throughout the month of August 2017. During his performances, Straatman lies down, stands, crawls, sits, and stretches. The curious audience passes him by, inspecting the artist who appears as an anonymous white figure mysteriously creating his canvases.