Filip Vervaet: Sedimental Journey
Pàdraic E. Moore (text)
PLUS-ONE Gallery & Stockmans Art Books, 2020
Published on the occasion of the exhibition Filip Vervaet: Sedimental Journey at PLUS-ONE Gallery.
The strata of the Earth is a jumbled museum. Embedded in the sediment is a text that contains limits and boundaries which evade the rational order, and social structures which confine art.
-Robert Smithson, A Sedimentation of the Mind, 1968
The final decades of last century saw the proliferation of a tendency within sculpture whereby the autonomous/self-contained art-object was rejected in favour of expansive multimedia installations. While such inclinations remain prominent, recent years have seen a notable return to more traditional approaches. There has been a resurgence of artists using materials such as clay, plaster, bronze and carved wood. This is coupled with a revival of figuration; a return to representing the body in a manner evocative of modernist and classical idioms. The work of Filip Vervaet exemplifies these aforementioned tendencies. His sculptural installations often refer to the history of Western Art, especially twentieth century sculpture, with allusions to Rodin and Rosso particularly evident. However, while Vervaet may cite the history of sculpture the visual language he has devised is entirely his own. His vocabulary could only have been created by an artist familiar with the vicissitudes of our hyperreal, accelerated world in which electronic screens and digital surfaces proliferate.
Previous works by Vervaet included motifs that signify exoticism, tropical ferns or bunches of bananas cast in bronze for example. In this solo exhibition at PLUS-ONE Gallery new motifs with similar connotations are introduced such as the four-masted ship that calls to mind far-flung maritime voyages and exploratory (possibly colonial?) expeditions. Here Vervaet takes a relatively common, kitsch domestic ornament and subjects it to a variety of processes that transform it into an ambiguous artefact that looks like something unearthed in an archaeological excavation. The work exemplifies how many of Vervaet’s works possess a timeless quality, appearing simultaneously ancient but possessing details that are impossible to date accurately. As the title of this exhibition suggests Vervaet also looks to geology as an impetus for his work, what Robert Smithson refers to as “the layers of prehistoric material entombed in the Earth’s crust”. Ultimately, Vervaet’s work demonstrates a desire to create mysterious objects that would best be described as numinous. Originating from the Latin word numen meaning.