This sculpture created in FLACC by Marc Claes for his exhibition at Annette De Keyser is an impressive and moving artwork that rivets the attention the very moment one enters the gallery. You are either immediately captivated...or not. Standing her own ground, this lofty composition of wood reaching for the ceiling is one that can be seen through but could never be overlooked.
This is definitely not about some dull and lethargic obstacle blocking all space and
fantasy.

At the same time fragile as well as sturdy, standing on the tips of her eight feet, this open transparent statue radiates such dignity that one feels the need to step around it on tip-toe.
Her strained silence tempers our fantasy while triggering the imagination.

As resplendent as a monument, a musical instrument, built with the passion and precision of an ebonist, the builder of lutes. This is a sculpture bursting with sound: the jazz of Art Pepper & George Cables, Scarlatti - or the crystalline chime of the clavecimble; the lament of ancient Mongolian and Armenian melodies; the buzz and zoom of huge insects; the crashing of waves, the base tone ut. AC/DC.
Her silence...before the Final Scream.

The ribs of the ship's rump, a gothic stellar dome; an arc; a harp; something exhilarant.
This is an ode.
To the combination of talent, skill, beauty, elegance, acrobatics, suppleness, ability, daring, sexiness, energy, freedom - to the sensual sway of hips, to dolphins everywhere - and fuck the church!

To Bruce Gold en Duke Kahanamoku, Captain Cook and Alex Cooke alias Ace Cool. And fuck sports, too!

Tattooed sea spider, ready to sting; carnivorous plant, ready to spring. Opened shell from a strange fruit, of an ominous and evil variety which has materialized from nowhere overnight, dropping her seeds - as minuscule as bombs from the belly of a fighter plane when seen from afar. O, Bud!

African spears congregating for some bizarre and secretive initiation ritual. Leaves from the talipot palm, upon which the very first script is imbedded deep within each nerve. Not only the structure but also the texture must be deciphered.

The creator is a Scribe, indentured to the sculpture which demands to be written upon ( just as she also demanded to be made) with the hieratic figures and scars of the subculture, in a tongue that can only speak of itself, with etchings from deep within the marrow - with sanguine coursing against the tide of the revolutions of blood.

With the graffiti of the passion - scratched, scathed, burned, engraved within her - like the first heart ever with the very first passion within the very first bast - so that each scratch, each inscription, each incision becomes that new and unique etching from deep within that very marrow.

And thus, he covered her with an imploring, repelling gown. She cries out for mercy.
It takes courage to present a work so beautiful, elegant, charming and above all so skilfully constructed. But the artist remains unperturbed...this Einzelgänger follows his own path.

2.

The large collage-painting, hanging in an adjoining space, is an extension of the sculpture.
Constructed of various layers overlapping each other, barely hanging in the second dimension, this work appears as though a sculpture has been pressed into a tableau.

These clipped, pasted and painted then re-sketched images link ingeniously together into a patchwork of slivers and shards.

Form and content are so interwoven that one repeatedly receives a different impression, like the swiftly sifting patterns in a kaleidoscope from which they seem to emerge.

The effect is that of an utterly organic, baroque whole - a sort of vibrant mosaic with constantly emerging configurations, where the difference between abstract and concrete fades away into irrelevance.

Figurative images churn up from a misty underground, breaking through to the abstract surface, like fragments of halfforgotten histories, before sinking back to the bottom from whence they came - until yet another fragment arises, just as splintered and unmercifully sharp as the fading memory itself.

Here again Claes has dipped into an (arche-)typical source of imagery - a language of forms that has organically emerged from some doodle out of distant past, which he has continued to develop throughout his vagrant wanderings, his excursions through various cultures approached from the perspective of a rambler's sauntering.

Rainbows, sunsets, bottles, lightening bolts, lighters, circles, thistles, helmets, knights, swords, fire, star fighters, etc. - these are his 'brand names'', his deck of playing cards, like those printed as miniatures of quite extraordinary banal experiences, which he has integrated - clipped and snippered - into this exquisitely intriguing collage-painting.

Also belonging to the Claesian iconography, which one must (re-)cognise to be able to understand, are the severed limbs, the cleaved and beheaded bodies. Even though they share the stage with various attributes of torture and terror their meanings are not obvious.

The loss of some dear someone or something, a journey abruptly ended, a metamorphosis: is actually the central theme of this work. From the north coast of Spain to the south coast of South Africa, slalomming past the unexpected contours of destiny, the pen following the circuit, the knife carving the figures, he jots down his escape routes in volumes of maps by the red of evening's blaze.
He practices his song - and surf lines, and he stacks -intrepid light travellerstone upon stone upon stone.

And so the red is born, then the black, etc.

With this work, a key-work, Marc Claes finally presents his first solo-exhibition. It could not have been more serene nor impressive.'