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Stockmans Meets Vercruysse at Spazio Nobile

One month left (until 4 February) before Spazio Nobile’s Season VI – Blauw. Ceci n’est pas une couleur will be closing its doors. From 22 to 25 February 2018, Spazio Nobile will take part in Collect at the Saatchi Gallery, London, presented by the Crafts Council UK, with a solo show of Piet Stockmans.

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Text by Lise Coirier

During this Season VI at Spazio Nobile, Piet Stockmans and Frederik Vercruysse have explored abstraction that is an art that is free and liberated from stereotypes. The two creators preserve and transcend, each in their own way, the detail, the setting, the treatment of light and colour: a striking whiteness, a cobalt blue with deep nuances and densities, a sense of elegance, of folds, of tension, of flatness, of twists that filter the material, throwing their shadow or illuminating the matter with a sudden clarity.

Flat light, swaths of colour

This exhibition explores a mode of representation that is close to the art of the Flemish or Italian Renaissance but that, rather than emphasising the subject, instead focusses on its abstraction using lines, colours and shapes. The rendering of Stockmans and Vercruysses’ white and matte surfaces evokes tempera painting, the Italian frescoes of Fra Angelico or Piero della Francesca, as in Vercruysse’s Maria, in which the overexposed face of the Madonna with child dissolves in the light. Vercruysse combines old techniques with his own unique and innovative processes, and treats photography as a painter would: thin layers, soft and very bright colours, and blurred contours emphasising the intrinsic transparency. The visual impact is strengthened, as with the works of Piet Stockmans, who uses the whiteness of kaolin – white clay – to make the cobalt blue vibrate, unenamelled to bring out the surface luminosity, the delicate aspect of the porcelain. The blue combined with the whiteness, in a biscuit – a soft or hard porcelain -, cooked without glaze at high temperature (from 1200 to 1400 ° C), accentuates the three-dimensional quality of the sculpture.

A geology of the image

The photosensitive paper, the mould from which the shapes emerge that then shrink in the firing, these are all white surfaces on which an image could be printed, a more or less liquid paste poured, or the immaculate space preserved. These support surfaces allow a regular and compact rendering, textured or animated with a movement, the stroke of a brush. This sense and this capturing of the original material and of the composition are common traits to Stockmans and Vercruysse.

Each uses repetitive lines, such as the Plexiglas-covered Porcelain On Paper, boxes holding thin porcelain plaques, flat or folded, Stockmans’ books in relation to his installation of 400 elements in Stockmansblauw porcelain, and the GV Window photographs of Vercruysse. There are also the abstract forms, open to the imagination, the layers and successive planes that lead to the controlled freedom in the mould or the framing of the image. An invitation to a voyage within the visible and invisible, simultaneously tactile, visual and poetic. Stockmans uses the shrinking of the porcelain by keeping it in its mould in several of the pieces exhibited – including the Square Plate and Dish, the Round Dish, the Wounded Vase, The Poor Remnants, the Wind Lights and the Soft Blue Oval Vase, while Vercruysse abstracts the subject by keeping only the colour and contours.

In this geology of the image, Stockmans and Vercruysse also share that culture of minerality which is the focus of Spazio Nobile’s exhibitions. By reducing ornamentation in their essential and existential approach, the two creators give form to the idea of « Blauw. Ceci n’est pas une couleur ». More than a pigment, it is a primary colour that oscillates on the border between shadow and light: the ultramarine of cobalt, from sky to sea, from the still image to the porcelain piece. The communion occurs: Stockmans’s Tower in Blue, Tower of Babel and Examples of a Landscape are variations on the theme of life, human fragility and entropy.

Blue: an artistic medium?

Mystery and a feeling of gravity, the shadows expand, the light diffuses across the surfaces of the works, colour floods the material, opaque or translucent. Swaths of colour, flat and low-angled light. The composition is paramount and primordial. The lines are frontal, rather like portrait photography.

The blue blends with other colours, and is made palpable through the frosted glass. Vercruysse abstracts the composition by reframing the images on the rolled glass through which can be seen the colour. The blurred translucidity, the presence of coloured shadows, the absence of decoration, bring the aesthetic to the forefront. The control of the rays of light preserves the intensity of the colour, while creating a sensitive, intimate, oceanic construction, which he himself calls « Atlantic ». The same holds true for the Vivaio / Blue Moon diptych that he decomposes and punctuates graphically. Fattoria / Blue Tiles, GV Window, Pool Blue, Garden, End of the Day, Yellow Tape and Paint Pot are all abstract variations on architecture and on colour that fades and revives in the light. The blue delineates the spaces, creating the illusion of volume, as with Stockmans’s vases with collapsed collars. The spectator is left free to appropriate the work.

 “Blauw. Ceci n’est pas une couleur”

Duo Show. Piet Stockmans & Frederik Vercruysse

Exhibition until 4/2/2018

Sunday Brunch

14.1.2018 – 28.1.2018 (during BRAFA Art Fair) and 4.2.2018 (during Bily 3rd Edition, Brussels Contemporary Art Walk), from 12.00-16.00

From 22 to 25 February 2018, Spazio Nobile will take part in Collect – The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects, at the Saatchi Gallery, London, presented by the Crafts Council UK, with a solo show of Piet Stockmans.

Spazio Nobile by Pro Materia Gallery, Contemporary Applied Arts, Design & Photography

Rue Franz Merjay 142, 1050 Brussels, Belgium

Me – sa / Wo. – za. / Wedn. – Sat., 11.00-18.00 & sur rendez-vous / op afspraak / by appointment



About Piet Stockmans

Born in Leopoldsburg (Belgium) in 1940, Piet Stockmans this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of his studio. Living on the site of Genk’s C-Mine, his career fluctuates between art, the applied arts and industrial design. For nearly 30 years, he taught product design at KHLim in Genk and the Design Academy Eindhoven, and collaborated with industry – notably 25 years with Royal Mosa. New ideas and experiments continue to nourish his work as an artist-ceramicist, ranging from single or multiple pieces of applied art, to integrations of his porcelain works, to architecture. Cultural ambassador for Flanders in 1995, winner of the Henry Van De Velde Career Award (Flanders Design) in 1998, his works have been included in major exhibitions (solo or group) and have been the subject of memorable installations. Stockmans has seen his creations take their place in the largest Belgian and international collections: PMMK Ostende, Designmuseum Gent, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, MAD New York, Met New York, Mint Museum of Craft and Design, Musée national / Cité de la Céramique de Sèvres, V&A London, etc. He has also led many workshops and conferences in major art and design schools, and has participated in important biennials of ceramics.

About Frederik Vercruysse

Originally from Staden, then Antwerp, Frederik Vercruysse has imposed his photographic eye for more than a decade, cultivating a taste for architecture. The very good quality of his documentary and artistic images led to international renown. His minimalist, ethereal style and the graphic dimension of his photographs have allowed him to build a successful career as a photographer, whether for the media or in the design, fashion and luxury sectors (WSJ Magazine, T Magazine, Hermès, Delvaux, Limited Edition, Valentino, etc). His first monograph, “Index 2006-2016”, was recently published by Luster, focussing on his work with fashion and lifestyle brands and on his artistic vision. He is currently represented by the agency Initials LA in Benelux and the Netherlands, and by Quadriga worldwide.. Spazio Nobile is presenting his third exhibition as an artist-photographer.

About Spazio Nobile

By opening Spazio Nobile in April 2016, in the dynamic and cosmopolitan Ixelles neighbourhood of Brussels (Belgium), Lise Coirier and Gian Giuseppe Simeone have united their passions for design and art history, initiating a dialogue between contemporary applied arts, design and photography. Editing and exposing installations that are both experimental and artistic, with a particular sensibility to everything nature and minerality, the gallery organises four to five exhibits each year, dedicated to both rising and established talents, without creating borders between the disciplines, the visual arts alongside the fine arts. This sixth season, dedicated to two Belgian creators – master of porcelain Piet Stockmans and architecture and interior photographer Frederik Vercruysse –, will again nourish the imagination of spectators and collectors.

Wall installation, Piet Stockmans, 400 porcelain elements, 2017
Wall installation, Piet Stockmans, 400 porcelain elements, 2017
Fallen Vases, Piet Stockmans, porcelain installation including eleven vases, 2017
Maria, Frederik Vercruysse, 2015
Maria, Frederik Vercruysse, 2015
Fattoria / Blue Tiles, Frederik Vercruysse, 2015
Atlantic with yellow jacket, Frederik Vercruysse, 2017
Atlantic with yellow jacket, Frederik Vercruysse, 2017
Collapse, Piet Stockmans, porcelain, 2017
Collapse, Piet Stockmans, porcelain, 2017
Atlantic with salmon coat, Frederik Vercryusse, 2017
Atlantic with salmon coat, Frederik Vercryusse, 2017
Piet Stockmans
Piet Stockmans
Frederik Vercruysse
Frederik Vercruysse

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