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S.M.A.K. to Focus on Three Key Works by Dutch Ex-Painter/Artist Loek Grootjans
Loek Grootjans, "Good Care".

GHENT.- In 2008 Loek Grootjans launched the publication “Foundation for the benefit of the aspiration and the understanding of context (formerly known as the institute for immediate knowledge, real perception and logic features according to the most contemporary monochrome paintings)” in collaboration with the S.M.A.K. Call it a precedent for what is still about to come… In the exhibition “Leaving Traces” the focus is on three key works by the Dutch ex-painter/artist.

The Grandiose Artifice of a Dead Painter
Loek Grootjans plays for high stakes. Casual drivel, anxious fussing - all this is wasted on him. (I’m being careful about what I write here.)

'The Other'. Writing about Loek Grootjans’ work, I am constantly tempted to use capitals, but I will do my best to restrict this to the acceptable. We’re not dealing with pettiness here. Grootjans could never be accused of underestimating his task as an artist (Artist). Probably his seriousness, zeal and obsession are due to his great predecessors in the fields of abstract and monochrome painting: Mondrian, Malevitch, Newman, Reinhardt and Klein, who manifestly refused to compromise and who strove for the Absolute. Grootjans also recognised these qualities in Baruch de Spinoza’s writings where logicality and radicalism lead to clarity yet shake the established order to its very foundations and pull the carpet from right under your feet. Here, it’s not about going ‘to the bone’ or ‘to the bottom’, for there is no bone, no core, and no bottom. Today’s artists – i.e. from Spinoza onwards - see themselves confronted with that abyss, at least if they have some basic honesty.

Good Care
During his first visit to Opera Paese, Grootjans encountered election posters in the art centre’s neighbourhood that featured the surgically-enhanced head of a television magnate, which was crowned with the slogan: ‘He who takes good care of himself, takes good care of those who choose him.’ Grootjans remembered how, in his book Oneself As Another, the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur made it clear that one can never imagine oneself in the place of another, that one can never reduce the Other to the image that one has of him or her. His or her Otherness is, in an absolute sense, irreducible. At Opera Paese, where Grootjans exhibited, he created a mural that confronted Silvio Berlusconi’s successful slogan with a network of the most divergent opinions, comments and points of view, all of which one may think but are never or almost never expressed out loud. He took his inspiration from Pasolini, including Pasolini’s defence at the various trials where he was charged with homosexuality.

The Opera Paese mural was repeated in various versions and contexts, and in a number of different languages. Moreover, this project was unexpectedly extended when not only Pasolini but also Spinoza and Perec poked their noses into this veritable Tower of Babel, and supplied the artist with sentences that resulted in him writing an entire book at a single sitting. It was called Vision of the Other Side, and consisted of a long testimony of, ode to and confrontation with the Irreducible Other. A print is included in the front of the book that shows these three fountains of words - the imperturbable Spinoza, Perec with his cat on his shoulder and Pasolini nervously jiggling around on a bar stool - meeting in the attic of the artist’s house. The Illustrious Dead drinking tea at the home of a dead monochrome painter. Death as the only real executioner, the sole source of irrefutable Truth and the perfect Absolute Otherness.

In 1998 Loek Grootjans has set up a Foundation ‘for the Benefit of the Aspiration and the Understanding of Context (Formerly Known as the Institute for Immediate Knowledge, Real Perception and Logic Features According to the Most Contemporary Monochrome Paintings)’. With its departments, sub-departments and offices, this Foundation has branched out considerably. All this functions as a gigantic construction around something that has been impossible for some time and is physically absent from Loek Grootjans’ oeuvre so that it increasingly determines and pervades all that he embarks and creates.

SMAK | Exhibition "Leaving Traces" | Loek Grootjans |

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