Guy Bovijn, 'The images of Robin Vermeersch between concentration and expansion'

Guy Bovijn

The Images of Robin Vermeersch: concentration and expansion.


The first sentence of a text is indicative of the further course of the text. After that first sentence, one cannot just write anything: the tone has been set, as the say. A tone, a sentence, or line, can thus be understood as a phenomenon that creates space: the undetermined world-as-space for design, the world of all tones, is never the same again after that first tone. Many ‘initial’ possibilities appear no longer to be; larger structures are realized and start to lead a life of their own, at the cost of other structures, which could have been realized, heading into even bigger structures, at the expense of other bigger structures. Lines become textures…Whith each differentiation a new inside/outside evolves, a new horizon. The realized structures, each at their level, explore their surroundings, and search for that remote corner of space in which they can develop further, replicate, just like that first tone, and according to a logic of their own, which, if they wish to be successful, should join the logic of space surrounding them, the environment which came into being with that first tone.
And if they are successful, those structures, then they will eventually overtake their surroundings, and exhaust them, until death follows and the structures dissolve into oblivion. Does the space which reveals also disappear with the space for design? And with that showing space also the tone which showed first? Robin Vermeersch’s work offers a way out, although this last word could well be seriously misplaced.
The titles Space , Landscape , Cylinders , Structures sound rather abstract. The images which allow themselves to be ‘named’ by those titles also have quite an abstract look, in the sense that his ‘spaces’, ‘landscapes’ and ‘ such’ are not easily pinned down, or localized. Admittedly, they are before us, they are propositions, Vor-stellungen, and seem to delineate themselves according to our gaze. But that is mere sham: these images do not lend themselves to being contained, or colonized. What we need to this effect, for a sort of triangulation which could ( should?) make a clear situation possible, a horizon, is a third mapping point, a point of reference that should enable the viewer to objectify this and the other, and to thus make it easy to handle; controllable; finite.That point is missing.
The drawing evolve from a first marking, a setting of the tone, the first absolute concentrated sign that is able to distinguish itself within the undefined space that is the empty page. (How could it be otherwise?) But that beginning stays foreign to us. There is a question here of a sign which duplicates itself, and continues to duplicate itself, until a new sign comes into being, a new concentrate that encompasses the previous signs, albeit temporarily as it manifests itself again elsewhere in the space, in the immediate proximity but still ‘outside’ that which was already there, where it grows once again into a larger sign, and so on, until the sign reaches its ultimate destination: it becomes ‘space’, ‘structure’, or ‘landscape’.

But there is something about those images. Even the edge of the paper, call it the physical frame, and thus the delimitation of the drawing, doesn’t seem able to stop these images. These images do not recognize a higher power: they are what they are, sufficient. They have no need of an ‘outside’: they survive their frame. They are images. That is why one cannot speak of an entity upon which we can graft ourselves, in order to become an Entity ourselves. (The light at the end of the tunnel is there, sometimes, but it sheds no light on the moment of our perceiving it: it is inviting, but it makes no promises.) We can allow ourselves to be absorbed, to dissolve into a Space, a de-humanised space perhaps, in which we surely cannot reside but where we can wander; invited to let go of that inner necessity to keep finding the exit, again and again, that pacifying end against which we can measure the world, ourselves. The original quantitative sign, or that first quantitative tone, doesn’t have to survive itself: it lives on in the animated image, an Image, qualitative, which survives even us, the individual viewers. Or how the tiny gesture, once carried through, can lead us to a moment of monumentality…

Guy Bovyn