With texts by Daan Rau, Tom McRae, Jan Leysen, Piet Chielens, Luc Depuydt and Luc Hinnekens
Language: English and Dutch
Size: 30 x 24 cm
For centuries past, artists have paid attention to death and mortality, as well as to suffering and the causes of mortality through jurisdiction and torture, war and cruelty. Klaus Verscheure’s work might appear to be unrelated to the above, yet there is a clear link. The trees that he paints are not simply the subject, due to their pictorial and picturesque meaning. The mountainous landscapes are not there for the landscape and the dwellings nor for their architectural pretensions; he paints them because of what is no longer there. Absence plays a major role. People once hung from the trees, usually after a lynching. The mountains are situated in the Bavarian Alps and experts will recognise the Obersalzberg. The Berghof, Hitler’s holiday home built on the foundations of Haus Wachenfeld, an idyllically situated chalet, was located in the Obersalzberg. The houses, whether they be spacious villas or modernistic or romantic-looking cottages, were each the scene of a crime.
Violence is a constant theme in the work of this quite placid artist. No matter how innocent his titles might sound, the viewer should always expect a threat of some kind. The series ‘Smiling Faces’ shows the faces of criminals, based on mug shots – photos the police take of miscreants. There are more artists who were and are inspired by such materials. Is it an attempt to get inside that criminal mind? To understand why some people perform merciless cruelties and shocking deeds? It’s not only about offenders of ordinary law; I also recognise a partial portrait of Hitler...
Empty landscapes with lost trees;
deserted mountain panoramas;
suburban homes with no trace of life;
cold, absent mug shots;
cartoonish sketches of handcuffed people;
fragments of victims’ faces...
The paintings that Klaus Verscheure creates always raise the same question: “Why does the artist show this (empty) image, what’s happening here?” A question without any answer, because nothing is actually happening at the depicted moment.