Bert Danckaert, True Nature — James D. Campbell, Strange Oases of the Seen: Images of the Built World

[Hiver 2019]

Par James D. Campbell

The photographs of Belgian artist Bert Danckaert have been likened to abstract paintings, but the family resemblance resides more in the facture than in the finished work of art. Given his uncanny eye for the compositional “Eureka!” behind the lens, it’s as though he is using masking tape in the same way that a hard-edge abstract painter does, and cropping with an uncanny order of geometric precision, to produce images that beguile us with their apparently simple, clean and pristine minimalist ethos. Appearances can be deceiving, however, because his palette, startling in its bold declarative chromaticity and hallucinatory in its clarity, owes rather more to conceptualism and to wayward, if stalwart, forebears such as Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore, and Lynne Cohen than to those painting mavens – I mean, the hard-edge abstractionists.

The strange particularity of the places that Danckaert seizes upon is worth noting. Those places may be akin to those we pass by every day on our way to and from work in our urban neighbourhoods, but he places them in perceptual brackets, and they assume a heightened identity outside the quotation marks of the quotidian.

Seemingly anchored in or subservient to a Cartesian grid, in fact these photographs radically exceed any coordinate system whatsoever. They may be localized in the built world, but they do not trade on its architectural tropes. Instead, his images are read as surreal icons of the lived environment…

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Bert Danckaert is represented by the gallery Laroche/Joncas, in Montreal.