Billboard Series #20:
Rinus Van de Velde (BE)
Everything will be like it is now, Only a little bit different
14/07 — 14/10/2020
Everyone is familiar with the monumental charcoal drawings by Rinus Van de Velde (°1983, Leuven). However, this artist has much more to offer than just drawing – he also makes film, sculpture, small drawings in coloured pencil, installations and ceramic ashtrays. As an introduction to his broad artistic work, we have brief look at the last years of his practice.
Rinus Van de Velde started out as an obsessive draftsman and made – rather small – drawings with Siberian chalk on paper. These were based on an archive of photographic images from an endless collection of old National Geographic magazines. Van de Velde took these drawings from their original context and combined them with fragments of self-written text. Each of these drawings was a separate element in an ever-growing narrative. After a few years, however, the same characters start to appear in his drawings. These characters are always creative geniuses in a very specific time and place – a modernist artist named William Crowder, or a communist poet at the beginning of 20th century Russia. Although these characters are not real alter egos, elements from Rinus Van de Velde‘s own life inevitably slipped into his work.
This mixture of life and work continues in a series from 2012 entitled Self-Portrait as… In these works, the artist portrays himself as a central figure, but assumes various roles. He is, for example, …a tennis hero or …the young Ellsworth Kelly. Van de Velde soon also starts portraying a number of close friends as characters in his drawings. The series The Story of Frederic, Conrad, Jim and Rinus (2013), for example, also includes writer Koen Sels and Van de Velde’s gallerist Tim Van Laere. For this series, Rinus Van de Velde stages a number of situations in elaborate decors, that he photographs extensively before drawing in large format. In further series, Van de Velde continues in the same way. The sets he builds in his studio become larger and more complex. Every element in these sets – from houseplant to full bathtub – is from cardboard, emphasising the fictional and unreal character of these sets.
For Billboard Series, Rinus Van de Velde made a monumental drawing in charcoal. The work depicts a detail of dancing waves at sea, with the caption “Everything will be like it is now, Only a little bit different”. This sea view can be read in different ways – each in its own time and space.
In our current political climate, this thought could be read as one of hope for change. Changing our world to an inclusive society where every gender or ethnicity is equal, and where there is no longer a need for protests and movements like BlackLivesMatter or MeToo. You could also read the work from where it is shown – in the Ghent docks, a neighbourhood that has been changing for the past five years. The sea echoes the water flowing next to the billboard, a relic from a bygone past. This is a place that has slowly been transformed from an abandoned industrial port into one of the new thriving hearts of the city. The water remains, the buildings are still the same, but everything is being filled in a bit differently. Or you could of course also read the work from a more existential point of view. The sea – a landscape that always remains the same but is constantly changing, a tranquil image in constant movement, the origin of life, but also full of death. The sea has always been here, and we are just a footnote in her story. Whatever it is – everything will be as it is now, only a little bit different
All images courtesy of the artist
Installation photography: Michiel De Cleene
Billboard Series is a long-term art project in public space, for which every three months an artist is invited to create a new, site-specific work for a 50 m2 billboard on Dok Noord, Ghent. Through changing presentations, Billboard Series wants to build a sustainable and productive dialogue with the surrounding neighbourhood and urban landscape, reflect on the changes that this neighbourhood is currently undergoing, and introduce a broad audience to different visual languages and ways of looking at the world.
Billboard Series is a project of artlead, together with 019. Billboard Series is curated by Thomas Caron, takes place within a scenography by architect Olivier Goethals, and is being developed with the support of the City of Ghent and the Flemish Community.