Drawing, coincidence & time
Hans Verhaegen is a Brussels based Belgian artist and debuted in the nineties with figurative oil paintings, drawings and collages. These morphed into posters, postcards, book covers, imaginary magazines and a number of striking installations. In 'Ronker' (1996) he literally let the sun and the street lights draw into a space. The installation 'Atelier 255' (1999) was a combination of projected studio drawings and collages, which were deconstructed into very tight grids. (see also "The Milky Way", 2000).
With the surprising '128 people’ (2003) he showed for the first time a digital animation. These works on computer were also used for new paintings, drawings, videos and installations like the hypnotic ‘Deus Digitalis’ (2009) with music by Jean Delouvroy.
All digital animations are populated by the same Tetris-like human figures. They are indebted to the blocky shape language of the first computer games and also to archetypical construction games like Lego. The ten simple basic shapes are the DNA of the recent art production of Hans Verhaegen. Man as a central theme and as a result of assembly in a computer program.
Some beautiful compilations of these animations were recently exhibited in several citiess in Belgium. (Gent, Antwerpen, Hasselt and Brussels). The small computer programs allow Hans Verhaegen also to draw and paint on paper again and to print series like ‘Kling’ (2010), ‘Rhodiola' (2012), ‘NY’ (2014), 'Nimrud' (2016) and 'Ada' (2017). A solo exhibition entitled ‘Grok’ (2013) presented for the first time a large selection of these prints.
To create these works on paper it sometimes takes nothing more than a simple click. A random image from the animation is then saved at a certain moment. Such a 'shooting' can produce a series of images that later can be combined and edited into a new composition. These digital prints often show very tight regiments of almost innumerable figures displayed in grids, or in other instances these human figures are inextricably pushed and rotated over each other and result in an abstract 'painting'.
Hans Verhaegen's art is a game with colored blocks. With the human figure as an algorithmic construction. Calculated intuition and random rationality replace each other as temporary strategies to find the balance between trust and surprise. While writing code, the execution power and the permanent accessible memory of the computer are used to catch hopefully a glimpse of those essential human moments in these unquiet times that make us indicate something as a work of art. This is very identical to working with traditional media. His very early experiments with paint and ink made during his period at the Royal Academy of Art in Gent, show the same combination of calculation and randomness.
Somewhere between traditional painting, conceptual art and contemporary digital art, Hans Verhaegen explores with his hybrid art the limits of the rules that underlie the creation of a work of art.
Hans Verhaegen (°1966, Ghent) studied graphic arts at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent (KASK) and Art Sciences and Archaeology at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). Since 1994, he is regularly invited to group and solo exhibitions at home and abroad.
Author: Hans Verhaegen, 2018