Sergio De Beukelaer ( Deurne 1971 )
European Superhero, 2010
Colored pencil and fluorescent marker on paper, three sheets
each 297 x 210 mm
Signed and dated
 
Much of the work of Sergio De Beukelaer provides ironic commentary in images regarding the geometric abstract tendency in modern art. When at the end of the Sixties and the beginning of the Seventies the last exponents of this current had repeated a few radical gestures of the pioneers in a 'minimal' way, all seems to have been said. De Beukelaer understands that when you’re headed down a dead-end, it’s advisable to turn around. He engages with the real world, the world of color fans and painting supplies. Hard edge becomes soft edge in his fat canvases, the ‘shopping’ of forms replaces the asceticism of the previous generation. De Beukelaer does not simply poke fun at his deadly earnest artistic forebears. He also does not simply sample monochrome or shaped canvases; his is not an attitude of ‘anything goes’. Each new work – or new series of works – is an attempt to mark a difference in the endless image flood submersing the artistic and non-artistic world. For informed viewers the use of unexpected supports and colors perhaps harks back to the (meanwhile anointed) classic moderns, but for ‘average’ viewers the works differ, subtly and not so subtly, from the colored objects with which they are constantly confronted. The potential impact of his work – knocking the viewer off-balance – has more to do with its ‘un-artistic’ tendency than with any eventual role the work might have within an art-historical or art-critical discourse.
– These three drawings undermine the ‘impregnable’ power of Superman by changing the colors that are inextricably linked to the brand. Transforming the battle colors of the American hero par excellence in white and black (Obama!) to pink. From the ‘European superhero’ via a self-portrait as hero and ‘dental fresh’, it runs to the ‘pink hero’ that has a closer kinship to Freddy Mercury or Grace Jones as conclusion. – De Beukelaer manipulates the comic book figure in a less respectful manner than in pop art. He uses the low-culture motif not to pull the rug out from under the exaggerated pretentions of his predecessors, but as a starting point for his own, egocentric practice. The artist sees himself as an actor in a battle of giants. Who else dares to tackle other heroes and reduce their supernatural powers to color and put a parrot on their shoulder?

Literature:
Ronny Van de Velde, The Mind of the Artist, Knokke, 2013, cat.nr.111
 
Artist Biography:
Het werk van Sergio De Beukelaer oogt eenvoudig maar combineert diverse paradoxen. De Beukelaer hanteert bijvoorbeeld talrijke codes van de laatmodernistische schilderkunst uit de jaren 60 en 70 zoals de abstractie, de geometrie, de monochromie en de "hard edge"-techniek, maar hij doet dat met een ironie en een speelsheid die onverzoenlijk lijken met de attitude van minimalisten en fundamentele schilders. In deze eclectische aanpak lijken de klassiek-moderne grenzen te sneuvelen, zonder dat er sprake is van "postmoderne" kritiek op zijn voorgangers uit minimal-, pop-, op-, en concept art. Schijnbare tegenstellingen als figuratie en abstractie, vlak en ruimte, tekst en beeld, schilderkunst en sculptuur besmetten en bevruchten elkaar. In het concept van de "fat canvas", een driedimensionaal schilderij, verlaat de schilder het veld van de klassieke schilderkunst en verovert het schilderij de ruimte. De vormen, kleuren en afmetingen van De Beukelaers realisaties werken verleidelijk, maar achter de kracht van deze compacte beelden schuilt bij nader inzien een verassende impact.
 

European Superhero, 2010