Babs Decruyenaere: Putting Up Walls (Edition of 350 copies)
Valerie Traan Gallery, 2021
It might be on a beach in northern France, near Cap Gris-Nez, or in a bend of De Schelde in Kruibeke that Babs Decruyenaere finds the objects for her work: pebbles, cobbles, small and large stones, sometimes remnants of construction waste or a ceramic shard.
Babs Decruyenaere strolls, searches, and observes. She bends over, picks something up, examines and touches it, selects, decides, keeps it, or throws it away. Call it a ritual, this constantly repeated sequence of searching, looking, bending over, and feeling. It is a minimalist pantomime that she performs solitarily and that brings her rest time and again.
This ritual of searching and gathering – this performance without spectators – is an inseparable part of her work. Invisible to the spectator, essential to the artist.
Amazement is her driving force. She gathers pebbles and speaks to them, calling them ‘my stones’. But a stone is only accepted when it fits into her hand and can be embraced – by her hand and her fingers. The hand is the measure of things. In the hand, in the heart.
In her studio, Babs cherishes her finds. Stones are carefully stored in old cigar boxes. They too bear the patina of a past, a different past. Babs collects her stones like others collect butterflies or stamps. In the cigar boxes, the stones are placed in compartments that Babs has made especially for them, but the arrangement that Babs makes is purely instinctive.
She then selects different stones and brings them together in a modest composition: a subtle structure, consistently a tense balance of different types, colours and shapes. Brick and gravel, straight and round, hard and brittle, rough and polished, veined and plain, shiny, and matt. They are fragile stacks: various kinds of stones lie and stand, touch and support one another, complement one another. One stone is a wedge, the other provides an embrace. (Eric Rinckhout)