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Dirk Zoete

°1969, Roeselare (BE) – lives and works in Ghent (BE)

The artistic practice of Dirk Zoete is circular. He makes models, photographs, drawings, sculptures and installations, all resulting from and influencing each other. A model setting sometimes becomes a drawing, which might result in a large sculpture, which in its turn can function as an element in a larger installation or a prop in a new photographic series. 

A term he often uses himself for this practice is Brincadeira, the Portugese word for ‘play'. Dirk explains: “ It’s a term I picked up from a Brazilian who helped me out around my studio. I initially thought the term referred to 'do it yourself', comparable to the Dutch term 'bricoleren'. I was wrong, but immediately felt attracted to the tension between the do-it-yourself aspect and the idea of play. I now use it as an umbrella term for my practice: all models, decors and theater scenes I use for my photographic series, the drawings I make, which are either based on or literally drawn on the printed photographs, the sculptures that come out of this process; etc.”.

Dirk Zoete doesn’t differentiate between the photographs he makes of these models, the drawing he makes on these photographs and the drawing on paper that originate from these photographs. “They are all drawings,” he says, “ for me, a photograph is as much a drawing as a lead pencil drawing on paper. They are a way of understanding the world.”  

Dirk Zoete’s practice, though theatrical, has little to do with theater. He rather investigates how a situation can come into being, how his studio can function as a pedestal for new situations. The driving force behind his work is wonder. By creating images, sculptures and model settings of things he never saw before, by adding something new to the world, Zoete gets the momentary pleasure of wonderment.  

At the same, his practice is an exercise in relating to the world; Zoete explains how at first his models were an research into scale. How all the objects – tables and beds for example – he used in his models were based on things he saw in his daily life. He would measure them, scale them down and insert them in new setting.

Lately, his interest is shifting more towards the transformation of the materiality of objects, and this shows in the work he is currently making.  He experiments, transforming masks from cardboard to veneer, or casting them in aluminium. But the core of his practice stays the same: these wooden or aluminium masks also remain building blocks in his ever-expanding personal archive, showing up in drawings, which in turn could be used as design sketches for new sculptures.  Every work he makes is a starting point to a new object waiting to come into this world.

You can find more information about Dirk Zoete on his own website.

works by Dirk Zoete