...perhaps technical civilization will try the experiment of developing itself to its uttermost limits, till it becomes a diabolical sorcery...
Nicolas Berdyaev, 1933
For me, the Demiurge—the failed god who in earlier gnostic myths created this reality—provides the most useful “metaphor” to describe both the position of the artist and the act of painting. In painting, destruction and construction consist of largely the same operations. Painting comes closest to a sort of meditation on both absence and (sacred) violence. It is the most “gnostic” of arts. It is literally a fight between Light and Matter by means of a limited set of recurring personal and contingent acts. Although the illuminating Light can be blinding at times, and Matter is inherently flawed, we must make do with what we have been given. This continuous “fall into matter” is not just a condemnation of physical reality, but rather an ongoing invitation to recreate the world and better ourselves.
My paintings are a silent celebration of the infinite variety and ultimate unknowability of all that is. There is a profound sense of the passing of time as canvases are reworked over several years and numerous sessions until they finally achieve a life of their own. An artist is a vessel for all that does not have the power to speak in this world. It has been so since the days and nights in the caves. The subconscious, the subliminal, the chaotic, the irrational, the unnamable—these are now more crucial than ever before to come to terms with.
As with most elements in painting, sometimes these are the problem, at other times the solution. Even the most petrified metaphors have their place in art at certain instances. Artistic métier is neither exclusively the enemy nor an automatic validation. Drippings often defy natural gravity by running sideways or upward. Figuration is often achieved through uncontrollable gestures, while the texture of the abstract surfaces might remind one of the more visceral facets of reality. There is no “one size fits all”; works of art must follow their own logic to the end.
At one point, a viewer, when contemplating these works firsthand, will feel their bodies reorient themselves. Where would their place be in such an environment? An environment full of holes, discontinuities, hints of vanishing points, nameless historic references, and little more than its own internal logic. These paintings hold a middle ground between a level from a rudimentary computer game and an early Renaissance fresco.
This is some of the most “base” meta-painting imaginable, a sort of painting less suited to be taken in solely by the eyes, a painting that can be understood in full only by a pre-lingual body. Welcome to the world.
Mil Ceulemans, 2016
MRCS782 do androids dream of electric sheep, 2014-16, mixed media on canvas, 265 x 205 cm
MRCS729 chaotic attractor, 2015, mixed media on canvas, 265 x 200 cm
MRCS740 locus of control, 2014-15, mixed media on canvas, 230 x 190 cm