PROJECT 15 WERNER CUVELIER,
1970 AND BEYOND

16-02-20 > 12-04-20.

In the early 1970’s Werner Cuvelier (1939, Jabbeke, Belgium) became one of the leading conceptual artists of his generation in Belgium. He came into prominence by producing a series of works – conceptualized as research – that sought to turn into visual form the « objective » data and statistical relationships that underlie the mechanics of cultural production, distribution and exchange. His ultimate goal was not the production of on image per se but, rather, the deconstruction through visual representations of the quantitative relationships behind what he called « the problem of art ». He developed a unique artistic strategy for the organization, cataloguing and inventory of all kinds of objective data which he employed to reveal the ultimately subjective and arbitrary nature of human events. These data were presented in diagrams, book editions, photographic series or notes.

In the 1980’s, Cuvelier’s work turned towards a more painterly representation of geometric and arithmetical relationships as pure minimalist indexes. In a rich production of drawings, paintings, sculptures and conceptual works, Cuvelier moved away from his research into the mechanisms of the human world focusing, rather, on the conceptual relationships behind such mathematical constructions as the golden ratio or the Fibonacci series.

In his recent works he returns to the ‘real’ world from which he presents the objective data in a pure painterly way which, surprisingly, often reveals their underlying socio-political structures.

Cuvelier’s work could be defined as ‘classical’ (painter’s) art, but rather in the sense that curator, writer and teacher Dirk Lauwaert gives to this concept: “Classical is the work of art (or thought) that achieves the greatest freedom within the tightest form. Classical is the synthesis of norm and freedom – of a norm that has been understood, worked through and accepted; of a norm that has come to life”.