Denitsa Todorova & Ada Van Hoorebeke: Stone and a Glass, Tongues of Fire

2 September 2016- 2 October 2016

The monochromatic graphite works of Denitsa Todorova (Bulgaria, °1984) combine the abstract and the figurative to reveal a new vision on drawing as an artistic medium. The title of the exhibition is a perfect fit for the artist’s unique approach to drawing. The (ultimately impossible) relationship between the destructive force of the stone and the easily shattered fragile veneer of glass reflects the inherent contrast in Denitsa’s drawings, whose ostensible frailty belies the powerful, contrasting images beneath them.

The drawings on display depict one of the key subjects driving Denitsa’s work: balance, and our daily search for it through a seemingly ceaseless process of creation and destruction. Like a spiral, the beginning and end of our journey may seem to converge, but only we know of the time and effort it has taken us to get there.

Denitsa’s work is the product of an arduous process of painstaking detail, rooted in traditional methods. The artist starts by covering the entire surface of thin paper with a layer of graphite, only to carefully remove it again, sculpting the depicted composition in the process. This creative technique of removing, rather than adding, layers of graphite is similar to sgraffito and builds on a practice commonly known in Eastern Europe, where the roots of the artist lie.

Denitsa Todorova is a two-time laureate of the Ronse Drawing Prize (2014 & 2015). Her works have been exhibited at Museum M (Leuven), OFF PAPER (Antwerp), DART (Mechelen), Bozar (Brussels), Festival for Contemporary Art (Sofia) and Line Up (Ghent).

 

The works of Ada Van Hoorebeke (Belgium, °1982) make intensive use of batik and other techniques that experiment with colours extracted from natural materials such as textiles, wood and ceramic. On show is her most recent work Vuurtongen (Tongues of Fire) and other spatial works with objects covered in batik.

Tongues of Fire (Lidah api) is the old name of a Javanese batik pattern with hundreds of variations. Also called ‘Parang’, the pattern is mainly composed of a meandering pattern of ‘link-shapes’, which sometimes resemble broken machetes, or ‘Parang Rusak’. Still worn as traditional clothing at the court of the Sultan, the pattern’s origins hark back to much older signs, including sun signs or swastikas, which explains the Tongues of Fire moniker.

Vuurtongen shows interpretations of the Javanese pattern along with sculptural works made with batiked canvasses on discard materials. Batik is a technique of wax-resist dyeing, where hot wax is painted directly on the fibres of a canvas, leaving the remaining surface to be dyed in different colour baths. After extraction of the wax with hot water, the material can be used in many different ways. It is easy to see why many Europeans traveling to Java in the 16th century confused batik with painting.

Ada Van Hoorebeke works and lives in Berlin. She learned batik in Gambia and Indonesia. She studied Painting in Antwerp and was Artist in Residence at WIELS. Most of the batiks on display were created in collaboration with the day centre Mivalti during Ada’s Residency at Be-Part Platform for Contemporary Art in Waregem, (Belgium) in 2016.