5.6.16

KATRIEN DE BLAUWER


KATRIEN DE BLAUWER (1969) was born in the small provincial town of Ronse (Belgium). After a troubled childhood, she moved to Ghent at a young age to study painting. Later she attended the Royal Academy in Antwerp to study fashion. A study she abandoned. It was at that time she made her first collage books, actually studies and moodbooks for fashion collections. At a later age she began collecting, cutting and recycling images as therapeutic self investigation. 
Katrien de Blauwer has become a master in the art of “cutting”, a term that defines her practice better than “collage”, since the latter fails to express her mastery of the art of composition and the formal impact of her creations. In fact, her artworks are not collages in the usual sense. They are not about associating fragments in order to recreate images like the surrealists did for instance. Her artistic gesture originates from an intuitive perception and a poetical process, but her approach is conceptual and essential in nature. Katrien de Blauwer is a meticulous observer and a careful analyst of the various elements that make up a photograph whether in relation to the subject matter – how it captures a piece of reality through framing- but also the space within the image and the various plans and colors it is made of. However she is not directly a photographer. She prefers to pick and extract bits and pieces from others’ photographic language in order to revive their formal value. 
Strictly speaking though, Katrien de Blauwer does not “cut out” since she does not follow the shapes of bodies or faces. She delimits visual strips and creates a composition ruled by abstract principles. She does not accumulate, she subtracts. 
Her eyes single out a few visual elements and put a formal focus on them through the addition of mute colored strips that suggest an off-camera space and produce a new visual narration. Most elements these new images are composed of, and specifically the figurative parts, come from black and white magazines from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. She then combines them with monochromatic pieces of paper she collects from old books, aged paper bringing faded color effects, similar to black and white areas in newspaper clippings. Her range of colors creates a dialogue between different shades of grey and pantone hues, which adds to the graphic intensity of the whole. 
Katrien de Blauwer’s radical Cuts draw on a minimal art culture. Even though her universe is different, her method is reminiscent of some conceptual artists from the 1960’s-70’s, such as the documentary approach of Dan Graham which consists in combining different types of photographical documents and presenting them like records gathered in catalogs, thus elaborating fictional urban typologies.

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