Start Date

Mar 19, 2022

End Date

Apr 30, 2022

A Standstill - we're just obvious - Solo - Tom Woestenborghs

What does the perfect courtier, Gentleman or Lady look like today? With a series of society figures, the Belgian artist Tom Woestenborghs elaborates on this fascinating genre of visual culture.

Within the domestic wings, Tom Woestenborghs records the final finery of his characters before they enter the arena of a party. The artist has majestically captured that threshold moment, the expectation of what is to come. It is a cocktail of desires and projections with a slightly repressed tension. Will it soon be possible (with 'les autres') to fulfill the formal and unspoken codes? Will it be a 'paradis' or rather 'l'enfer? Can we ever live up to society's expectations at all? Or, ourselves? Similarity plays a role in these portraits - anyways, but that is subordinate to the human condition that the artist wishes to portray.

Tom Woestenborghs gradually transforms the transience of the snapshot into a pose with stature. To achieve this, the artist works very thoughtfully and juggles three different image frames: close-up, medium and full shot. Each subject in this series is also consistently threefold and consists of a glamorous portrait; an intimate representation of the same model and an abstracted detail from the accompanying interior. He also enriches the frame of reference of painting with photographic and cinematographic characteristics. His creation process and end result is a cross-pollination of analog and digital characteristics.

Tom situates the horizon line and the intersection of the flight lines at the height of exciting physical zones. He cleverly plays with perspective and cunningly directs, stimulates and slows down our gaze. Without distracting image elements in the background and because of the tight framing of the model, there is often no escaping this: every viewer becomes a voyeur. Despite the flirtation with cliché images from men's magazines and women's glossies, the characters are never passive models or generalizations, but personalities. They are co-directors. Even friends, so that the creation process is interactive. Pivoting around intimacy and privacy, each model consciously reveals or conceals itself from the eyes of the outside world.

This creates a meaningful ensemble that underlines the hip social status of each character individually. The portrayed always seems to be well aware of the freedoms or limitations of their own gender, the socio-economic class to which they belong and the possible privileges associated with them. In this aestheticized anthropological research by Tom Woestenborghs, the ultimate question returns like an echo from the start. When do we meet our personal or societal expectations?

- Stef Van Bellingen


Exhibition Guide A Standstill - we're just obvious

CV Tom Woestenborghs