Works of the Belgian painter Philippe Vandenberg (1952-2009), mainly from the late nineties, are shown in Hauser & Wirth, Piccadilly London. It's the first solo show of Vandenberg in the UK.
In the beginning of the 1980s, European painting revolts against the hegemony of American conceptual art. From the Transavanguardia in Italy to the NeueWilden in Germany, a Neo-expressionist style rises to the surface, vehement and uncompromising. Young artists in Belgium are also exploring this trend. Among them, the Ghent painter Philippe Vandenberg.He rapidly achieves success as a young, Belgian artist, with works in a number of international collections, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Halfway through the 1990s, Philippe Vandenberg's style changes. His work, whether figurative or abstract, becomes more tormented; obsession rears its head: not only is there a battle with painting, but also with his own demons. Vandenberg was both an extremely erudite and extremely well-read man: from the immense international literature of (art) history, myths and sagas he drew themes, figures and icons. He could excel, literally and figuratively, in black paintings or paintings made in his own blood. Word and text paintings crop up as answers to the senselessness of pictorial narrative.
Painting was also an ‘exercise in dying' for Vandenberg, in which he exhausted every means at his disposal: not only painting but also over-painting, not only drawing but also writing, not only image but also word. At the end of his life he painted/wrote: ‘Il me faut tout oublier,' everything must be forgotten. www.hauserwirth.com