Painting in response to the void by Manuela Klerkx. (Eng)

‘Before I embark on a new creation there is a complete void, inside of me and on the canvas. Beforehand, I have no idea of how to fill that void. Therefore, for me, the outcome is also a surprise. That is why the starting point is so crucial. It is this starting point that is going to decide in what direction the painting is going to evolve’, according to Laurien Renckens in her Nijmegen-based studio where I have come to visit her. During our conversation, the word ‘void’ often comes up, in conjunction with notions such as ‘light’, ‘colour’ and ‘line’. Renckens loves emptiness, silence. They are perfect of their own accord. That is why she does not want to fill the void and break the silence with brush, paint and tape, but to experience them by transforming them into art. That is the ultimate challenge Renckens has to face; but how do you achieve the perfection of a void in a painting?  

 For Renckens, the answer to that question does not lie in the subject matter or the illusion; the interconnection of the canvas and the process decide what choices she is going to make. The often delicate, bright coloured lines contrast strongly with the surfaces that vary from the whitest white to the softest white, made up from pink, grey and yellow hues, and, thus, giving it its depth. The predominantly vertical lines, framing the empty surface, are, ever so often, literally, at the edge of the panel. As a crowning achievement of the void.  

 However, there is more. For, simultaneously, subtle lines frequently interrupt that same void. Not – as is the case in the Cézanne tradition – to rearrange and abstract the world surrounding us, but to give the painting its own reality. Cézanne looked from the outside in and, thus, appropriated a landscape or a still live. Renckens follows rather in the footsteps of Mondriaan, the first abstract artist who looked from the inside out, and considered a painted surface, framed with horizontal and vertical lines, to be an inspired surface: a surface that, exclusively, refers to the feeling and meaning that the maker has put into it. Referring to the artistic process itself. How strikingly beautiful Renckens is continuing this tradition.   

Intuitively and cautiously, sticking to the limitations she imposes upon herself, Renckens inspires the empty space by using fine and coarse, sometimes  frayed brush strokes, a colour palette varying from the clearest white to the deepest black, and a startling use of tape. By means of an iterative process of adding, painting, removing and adding of tape, nuances of colour emerge and various sizes of tape – depending on the layers of paint and the brush strokes – guarantee a different result, every time.  In that way, every new canvas is the ultimate attempt to try to achieve the perfection of the void. ‘Only when a painting resonates with the deepest self you may call it a good painting. I wish to offer the spectator a chance to experience that same sensation, ‘according to Renckens.  

This is only feasible with no interference, whatsoever, and therefore she has to proceed as consistently as possible. This means: no trip to the figurative art, no unanticipated turns, but one all-encompassing exploration of the space in which the empty canvas and its being meet in a two-dimensional image. Her painted panels ‘read’ like mood boards that refer to the subconscious, to the innermost feelings which resonate on the canvas. Without eclipsing the void, without outshouting the silence, Renckens is looking for the right balance between the white canvas (the void) and its meaning (the inspired surface).   

In conclusion.  

No one can hold a candle to the emptiness and the silence; and, there is no need for that. The challenge the artist faces is to appropriate a small piece of that perfection and put something of herself in it. That is, admittedly, something transient, something that pales into insignificance compared to eternity. However, it does present us with a moment in which the void is slightly vibrating and the silence makes itself briefly heard. The human being is the only species that has the capacity to achieve such a magical moment. Or rather: the artist. Laurien Renckens’ wonderful panels are living proof of that capacity; and we bear witness of it.   

Manuela Klerkx 07. 26. 2020. 

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