Nicolas Delprat: Appearances of Light
TLmag speaks to Belgian-based artist Nicolas Delprat on his recent show ‘Appearances of Light’ at Michèle Schoonjans Gallery.
The work of the Belgian-based artist Nicolas Delprat focuses on light, or rather, the memory of light. In his recent show ‘Appearances of Light’ at Michèle Schoonjans Gallery the artist invited visitors to join in this fascination by superimposing, covering, or even erasing light passages. TLmag speaks to the artist about his practice, the role of James Turrell and Dan Flavin in Delprat’s work, and the show in its entirety.
TLmag: Could you tell us a bit more about your practice and the aim of your work?
Nicolas Delprat (N.D.): My work, which consists primarily of installations and paintings, has been mainly inspired by focusing on the representation of light. I am also strongly inspired by the history of art, in particular by minimal art, from Dan Flavin‘s neon lights to the James Turrell’s environmental installations. My paintings often evoke the memories of light: forgotten, remembered, or imagined lights, but ultimately a souvenir, re-imagined by the painting. My work is about the initiation of a story, of the transformation of the image that the viewer is free to conceive.
TLmag: The show ‘Appearances of light’ invites visitors to enter the intimate universe of the artist. Could you expand on the narrative and aim of the exhibition?
N.D.: For this exhibition, the Michèle Schoonjans Gallery proposes a set of paintings on canvas and paper, among others, the pieces of the Turrell and Dan Flavin series in their latest developments, which I have selected together with the gallery owner Michèle Schoonjans.
The ‘James’ series echoes the memory of an installation experience by the minimalist artist James Turrell. It displays the appearance of white light, the transition from one space to another is stated. From darkness to light. I don’t paint James’ work: what interests me is what you see from the dark corridor leading to the installation, a doorway shrouded in atmospheric light emanating from the room. I represent and offer the memory of my experience of the work at the expense of the work itself. In this series, which I have been pursuing for many years, I revisit this memory, thus showing the work of that time, based upon memory.
For the series ‘Dan’ I propose experiments in the disturbance of perception. In fact, the experience of seeing a neon work by Dan Flavin was the starting point of my reflection. More precise: the malfunction of the piece during my visit. This created a disturbance in my perception of this work. This minimalist work suddenly slipped into a cinematographic fiction through the crackling of the neon.
In the exhibition ‘Appearances of light’, I present several evolutions of this series, one of which introduces the appearance of the gesture, the traces of the brush, the splashes that flow along with the canvas, all elements that recall the liquid nature of the medium, thus so introducing a notion of temporality.
TLmag: You mentioned ‘’The images give an impression of alienation, a situation where the border between in- and outside is not settled but can expand’’, does your choice of material and tools connect to this idea?
N.D.: Indeed, the “Put back” series on James and Dan plays on the superimposition of shots. The use of scotch tape reveals the construction elements of the image visible, both the limits imposed on the painting and the internal skeleton of its construction. The nebulosity of the paint then rushes into this newly constructed pictorial space. I create tension, a balance between fixity and movement.
The paintings propose a crossing in time and space, which leads to infinity. The viewer can imagine a story, an event that could happen, or a past phenomenon that remains in memory. It is a question of provoking a “beginning of a narrative”. A balance between fixity and movement.
TLmag: You mentioned the show is open for the viewer to decide how to interact with the works and how to continue the experience or phenomenon. What are some reactions from visitors which you received, could you share?
N.D.: With the ‘James’ series, a visitor is usually attracted by the halo of light. They often associate the image of an opening (door or window) and based upon their imagination, they interpret the work either to the futuristic world, to the afterlife, or to a scene from a film by Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch. With the ‘Dan’ series, when the subject of the neon is so obvious, visitors often evoke the film Star Wars and for works where light illuminates the canvas, they associate it with meditation and space of quietude…
The show Appearances of Light by Nicolas Delprat was on show at Michèle Schoonjans Gallery (Ukkel, Belgium) from 14th of March till the 30th of April 2021.