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Jan Vercruysse in Unreadiness

16 April—10 September 2023
Group exhibition at Roger Raveel Museum, Zulte, Belgium

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From April 16 to September 10, 2023, the Roger Raveel Museum brings together works by Jan Vercruysse (1948-2018), Nel Aerts (1987) and John Murphy (1945). The title of the exhibition, Unreadiness, is taken from Giacomo Joyce, a sixteen-page text written by James Joyce during his stay in Trieste in 1914 and published posthumously in 1968. In this love story, Joyce expresses feelings of loneliness, loss and desire loss. The text forms a tangle of references hidden behind a veil of personal connotations and universal archetypes.

In a similar way, the artists in this exhibition developed their own universe that draws on the private feelings of the maker. At the same time, they make use of an art-historical and literary discourse full of iconographic symbols. A number of recurring motifs give away a double meaning: the veil, the stage curtain, the mask and the self-portrait, the poetic word choices in the titles. In a sensual game of concealing and reveiling, the works of art bear witness to the creation itself: "art for its own sake, and for its own fate".

The general mood in many of the works is that of melancholy, an undefinable sense of loss and longing. Like a ship without a course, floating on a wide sea, the artist feels stricken by loneliness and carries himself out to give to those existential problems in the form of a doppelgänger, a character. Watching and being watched go hand in hand. The works in this exhibition seem to exist in another dimension, closed in on themselves, at a distance from the viewer.

Each of the artists questions and tests the chosen medium – sculpture, painting, photography, poetry – in the light of art history, paying attention to its traditions and fault lines. One seeks an aesthetic clarity, the other attacks it. The encrypted structures of language, meaning and image are exposed, while a great deal of attention is paid to material, carrier, volume in space and formats. A narrative or anecdotal dimension is avoided.

Unreadiness connects works by artists from two different generations and artworks from different periods, from the late 1970s to 2022. The underlying question about the status and place of art today is, more than ever, an urgent topic. The exhibition attempts to provide an answer to a world that is simultaneously unsaturated and insatiable. Turned in on themselves like hermetic machines, the artworks allow the visitor to approach and become acquainted with their strange forms, their images that move and disquiet in tranquil, sometimes absurd and always sincere beauty.