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Gert Motmans – Now it’s day but I am dreaming
26 May 2022 - 16 July 2022
Gert Motmans photocollages are a welcome antithesis, In a digital era in which smartphones and social media rule. Surely: his work soothes. Motmans images require attention. They invite the viewer to stroll, wander, get lost or even disappear in them.
Gert Motmans is a craftsman. He often chooses to work with analog techniques and to develop his images in the darkroom. He works with materials such as handmade Japanese paper or weathered / yellowed papers he finds in vintage stocks.In this way he breathes new life into traditional techniques and old materials. In itself a very cherishing gesture. It seems as if the artist wants to protect things from the future.
Fading, melancholy, nostalgia, fragility or darkness, but without being sombre?
Duality is probably key in this still young body of work. Motmans balances between figurative and abstract, complexity and a – deceitful – simplicity.The fragile works seem to feed on romanticism as well as minimalism.It shows a sense of great tenderness and sensuality but also of apprehension.
Of a slight fear to possibly lose something.
The graduate from the Fashion Academy in Antwerp, fulltime fashion designer and visual artist puts his identity, personality, personal experiences and dreams first in his collages.
This intimate work appeals to universal values and feelings, despite its highly personal nature.
Landscapes and male figures are recurring themes. Not surprisingly as during his childhood Gert struggled with his sexuality and found protection and security in nature where seclusion and daydreaming allowed him to escape from reality.
From this body of work speaks a fascination with time.
Motmans’ pictures express a desire for another world. A longing for familiarity and nostalgia.
At the same time his images seem to embrace a threatening, futuristic vision. As if Marcel Proust glances at Henry David Thoreau while a young Brian Eno watches cheerfully and provides the scene with soft rustling sounds.
For the exhibition “now it’s day but I am dreaming” at Ingrid Deuss Gallery the artist summarizes the exhibited works as pages from a personal diary – hence the titles “Day1”, “Day2” and so on.
For this new series he freely uses negatives from holiday pictures, stills from super 8 film and slides from his parents’ collection. Motmans’ basis is thus built on personal memories and experiences he had as a young boy. They are fragmented impressions of travels, often to the south of Europe.
Assumably these images will also evoke in the viewer echoes from the past. Of discolored holiday snaps. Of forgotten family albums covered in dust.
This effect is intensified by combining his own archive images with snippets from nostalgic postcards.
Now it’s day but I am dreaming shows new surreal landscapes balancing between blurred visions and feverish hallucinations.
The artist repeatedly plays with the horizon. Occasionally by roughly tearing the photographic papers, or – exactly the opposite – by marking or cutting it in a sharp line.
The images fade, discolor and blend into pastel colors.
And so mountains fuse with oceans, forests with ice floes. Graceful bodies merge with sturdy but equally delicate landscapes.
This series of images muses. It is nostalgic and futuristic at the same time. Happy but perhaps also a bit sad. Seemingly Motmans’ optimism likes to wrap itself in a dark veil.
In his case a smile never comes without a dark edge.