OD

ARTICLE

A space to discover a hidden part of oneself

by Jonathan Meersman

Elias Vangenechten (born 1997, Belgium) wears his green rainboots to wander around in the imaginary. Onwards to adventure, creating his visual language. He expects the beholder to do the same. To go on a quest to find happiness in one’s childhood memories.

Memories of the fantastic stories told by his father as well the long walks through the forest surrounding his childhood home, play an important role in his artistic discipline now. He loves the playful touch of imagination and the colour green. It’s a colour he has learned to feel and breathe in his younger years and reminds him now of this adventurous past. It’s not just a simple colour to depict a landscape of treetops, it’s an emotive state he experiences to go on an adventure and play, no longer in the forest as in his younger years, but in a visual language. It is a creative act of play; he plays with himself as a visual illusion, to discover an image in every detail of life. A performative wander through life.

His work creates a space he can lose himself in, a story Elias tells about himself for himself. It is a complete set of objects to create a continuous story. His work is in this constant playful state, each time ready to be changed into a new adventurous story that has to be unleashed. Each time Elias creates a space in which he leaves traces of his presence, adding a small dot of paint or changing the composition of the work. Being able to create from the act of play, Elias creates an intimate space to inhabit.

These imaginary worlds represent a self-portrait of Elias, without the need for him to depict himself as subject matter. It is in fact a dynamic recognition of himself. The entirety of his work is an ever-changing portrait, a search for himself that he mirrors in his visual work. By recognizing the fact that it isn’t possible to grasp oneself as a whole, Elias shows a collection of fragmented parts that one looks upon as an identity. The daily playful act is the creation of an understanding of oneself as a whole by resembling oneself as fragmented. All the little parts of the artwork are hidden identities through which Elias tries to discover himself. Each time he depicts a part of himself, he shows a fragment of his own hidden identity.

More specifically, in mirroring himself, Elias tries to compose a whole image of his lost childhood memories. Elias is constantly looking for new ways to depict this search for a reconnection with the colour green. Each time his work changes, the work resembles another imaginary depiction of this search. He wants to broaden this with visual language as text, digital art, music, dans, performance, etc. He is not yet sure how to manage it, but these are definitely things that are in the back of his mind.

The beholder, on the other hand, enters a frozen moment in time. The work is laid down as a complete installation. Another sphere is entered, that of Elias. There, one can move through a frozen landscape made by the last touch of the artist. By gazing through the many details of the totality of Elias’ work, the beholder can feel a deconstruction of totality. Being lost in this frozen moment, tracing back the marks Elias left behind, the beholder is tracing the fragments of the own self. This exhibited space – the ever-changing work that has momentarily frozen – works as an index. It shows evidence of existence (cfr. Charles Sanders Peirce), namely Elias’ reflection on identity which is depicted as a mirror to the beholder. It is a space where the beholder gets an opportunity to merge in the moment of beholding oneself as a whole through its shattered reality. The artworks show a distortion of oneself whilst offering a sense of identity. In such a quiet moment, one can only be.

To be absorbed in this moment itself, is the only thing that counts for Elias at the moment. He doesn’t think of any further goals. That is exactly the finest aspect of his work: to be able to discover things in the moment itself as it goes along, to be caught off guard by the imaginary.