LeQuire Gallery | May 13 – June 25
by Lili Valcarenghi/ May 2016
Marleen De Waele-De Bock’s persisting interest in design is evidenced through her experience as a printmaker, a fashion designer, and even, in her current part-time position, a teacher of Principles of Design at O’More College of Design. Her upcoming show, titled Principles of Design after her course, will be exhibited at the LeQuire Gallery in May. While De Bock’s intentions are rooted in design, these principles have been elevated to create works that incite personal reflection and interpretation.
The series is interconnected with a recurring floral motif exclusively of daisies. The consistency of this subject matter is an indication of De Bock’s intent to create a cohesive body of work. By limiting the subject matter to the daisy, De Bock is deemphasizing the role of the subject and thereby drawing focus instead to color and texture. She describes her prior landscapes as combinations of several elements, without any unifying aspect. Thus, this show marks a period of transition. It departs from her prior landscapes through the inclusion of abstract elements and through the predominant concern with design.
De Bock identifies this new style as “representative abstraction,” which reconciles aspects of both natural and geometric forms. While there remains a clear understanding of land and sky, this reality has been reimagined. The loose, organic movement brings rhythm to the piece, resulting in a harmonious composition. On the other hand, she includes what she calls “breaks” to segment the otherwise uncorrupted landscape. Because of these breaks, the paintings allow interpretation—something absent from more traditional landscapes. De Bock says that “art needs to talk,” even if there is no predetermined significance. She describes how her work can be considered either decorative or imbued with meaning, based on the contributed perspectives of the viewer, with each interpretation as legitimate as the next.
The large-scale paintings have an effect much like armchair travel. The intent of armchair travel is to invite exploration, to meditate on the image, and travel within it. As viewers, we are encompassed in De Bock’s paintings and almost adopted into her immense, abstract landscapes. Her pieces are therefore open to interpretation as well as exploration. Through this immersive experience, we are encouraged to contemplate our relationship with the earth. In a way, the abstract breaks in the image reflect the tendency of mankind to put nature in confines. De Bock optimistically aims instead to maintain its charm. She explains that “as an artist, you can make choices,” choices in the mediums and materials you use, the subjects you paint, and in your general outlook. This body of work is therefore representative of her own unwavering positivity.
As a student in Belgium, De Bock specialized in printmaking. This traditional art education gave her “the bases for all kinds of art,” which allowed a natural transition to painting. This shift was perhaps out of necessity, since the materials needed for printmaking were not easily accessible. However, the detail and precision founded in printmaking persist in her current practice. The time and effort put into each work of art are immediately evident, and we are left with the ultimate impression that her paintings are very thoughtful.
De Bock returns to printmaking in some capacity for Principles of Design, with several prints included in the exhibit as a complement to her paintings. Produced with carved linoleum reliefs, the patterned and meticulously rendered daisies contribute to the show’s cohesiveness. The linoleum prints require a much more involved practice than her paintings, and the results are far less gestural. She explains how painting has become her preferred medium for the easy manipulation of scale and texture by describing how “texture is different when everything is small; there is less to express with.” Her brushstrokes are far more capable of conveying emotion in their myriad layers. “It’s just more me,” she says of painting.
De Bock’s abstracted landscape paintings are characteristically engaging. The large scale of her compositions allows the full exploration of her subject matter in terms of texture and patterning—concerns that altogether connect her work to design. De Bock even sees the possibility of incorporating this floral imagery into patterns for clothing, demonstrating her continual inclusion of the principles of design. Her paintings therefore serve several functions: as harmonious design, decorative imagery, or even conscientious reminders. Through experiencing the work of Marleen De Waele-De Bock, we are invited to contribute our individual interpretations and to adopt the profound positivity inherent in her work.
Principles of Design by Marleen De Waele – De Bock opens at LeQuire Gallery on May 13. At 6 p.m. Nashville Arts Magazine’s Paul Polycarpou will lead a conversation with the artist, which will be followed by a reception. The exhibit is on view through June 25. To see more of Marleen De Waele – De Bock’s art, visit www.marleensartwork.com. For more on the exhibition, please go to www.lequiregallery.com.