Birde Vanheerswynghels: A Glimpse Is All I Need

Dagmar Dirkx

Posture Editions, 2023


Belgian artist Birde Vanheerswynghels (b. 1986) became best known for her monumental charcoal drawings of semi-imaginary, lush plant worlds. She focused on the historical context of the botanical gardens.
In her work, trees, plants, animals and water features become part of asymmetrical compositions, a universe consisting of ellipses and construction shapes and colors. She bases her work on historical documentation and stories of European ‘explorers’, but also makes the link to Google Earth and goes on a virtual journey herself to create new, fictional images based on her visual memory and imagination.
Since 2020, she has been working on a series of images that arise from an urgent feeling to say something about the world and the times we live in, a series of portraits of people who strive for the image of androgynous beauty.
This turnaround is related to Birde’s encounters within the queer community, a community close to her heart and in which relationships often intertwine into family ties. Instead of transporting people to another world, she wants to stand in the world and say something about (her) world and the times we live in.
Birde chooses to paint the portraits in oil on linen, adhering to a centuries-old tradition that explores the materiality and ability of painting to create images that transcend time and space.
The characters in the works are not portraits in the sense that they are made from life. The motifs in her paintings can be based on photographs, a color, a movement or a gesture. Resting, observing, occasionally dancing bodies are recurring subjects. Characters sometimes return in multiple scenes and have intimate conversations with other figures. With this, Birde once again searches for a fictional, visual reality and tries to arrive at a universal image.


ISBN: 9789491262593

144 pages, illustrations in color & b/w, 29,7 x 21 cm, hardcover, Dutch/English