Patrick Van Caeckenbergh at Zeno X Gallery

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Artist: Patrick Van Caeckenbergh

Exhibition title: Het Muziekbos (The Musical Forest)

Venue: Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp, Belgium

Date: September 6 – October 17, 2015

Photography: Peter Cox, images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

Het Muziekbos (The Musical Forest) is already the ninth solo exhibition of Patrick Van Caeckenbergh at Zeno X Gallery. In recent years, Van Caeckenbergh has continued to work with tremendous dedication on his project Drawings of Old Trees. At the Venice Biennale in 2013, a selection of these drawings was already shown in the Arsenale, followed by a showing in M Museum (Louvain, Belgium), the first presentation of the project in a museum context. With Het Muziekbos, the project is brought to a symbolic close. A first instalment was presented earlier this year at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York, which from now on also represents the work of Patrick Van Caeckenbergh.

In 1997, Patrick Van Caeckenbergh moved from Ghent to the small town of Sint-Kornelis-Horebeke. The  new environment and village life – a mixture of people, myths, events and other elements – would prove  an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the artist. It was in this sense also a special tree in his garden  that inspired him to create his first drawings. To him, trees are a form of natural architecture that possess  great magical power. They also function as metaphors for the work of the artist; branches or ideas are  interconnected, grow out of one another and originate from a root or basic theme. After years of close  observation of trees, Van Caeckenbergh is able to capture their essence or skeleton in a drawing, which  he then improvises upon. He himself likes to compare this to a musical score that serves as a base for  variations and interpretations. The artist often adds playful elements such as doors or windows, or he  alludes to the anthropomorphic character of the tree. To the artist, walking through a forest is like gazing  at the clouds, in the sense that it stimulates his imagination. Patrick Van Caeckenbergh schematizes, catalogues and, in this way, renders the world in an entirely  unique manner. He also tries to fill the gaps in science through the visual expression of his own thought  patterns. The trees are also thought structures of sorts from which he can hang his ideas.

The sculpture Box of (building) Blocks attempts to lay bare the parallels between fictional cosmogonies  or creation stories and scientific explanations for the origin of the world. The parallel histories of the  forest and the cross are explored as well. The sequoia here clearly alludes to the ambiguous relationship  man has with nature; the mythical proportions and age of the tree cannot prevent its tragic fate at the  hands of industry. As is often the case with Van Caeckenbergh, the thought process that guides the conception of a work  is expressed in his preparatory models. The scale model with the appropriate title Model for the Christ  before Jesus is in this case also accompanied by a collage that visualises Van Caeckenbergh’s ‘vegetal  theology’. According to apocryphal writings, a date palm grew beside the tomb of Jesus. For centuries,  oil from this date palm would be preserved as a relic in vials onto which Christ and the date palm were  portrayed. Given the limited size of the vial, the figure and the tree were simplified and depicted as a  single image: a single line was used for the arms and the branches, which is how the image of the cross  came into being.

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Drawing of old trees on wintry days during 2007-2014, 2007 – 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Drawing of old trees on wintry days during 2007-2014, 2007 – 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Drawing of old trees on wintry days during 2007-2014, 2007 – 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Drawing of old trees on wintry days during 2007-2014, 2007 – 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Drawing of old trees on wintry days during 2007-2014, 2007 – 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Drawing of old trees on wintry days during 2007-2014, 2007 – 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Drawing of old trees on wintry days during 2007-2014, 2007 – 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Drawing of old trees on wintry days during 2007-2014, 2007 – 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Drawing of old trees on wintry days during 2007-2014, 2007 – 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Drawing of old trees on wintry days during 2007-2014, 2007 – 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Box of (Building) Blocks, 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Box of (Building) Blocks, 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Model for ‘The Christ before Jesus, 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Model for ‘The Christ before Jesus, 2014

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Inventory of the ‘Drawings of Old Trees, 2014 – 2015

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Inventory of the ‘Drawings of Old Trees, 2014 – 2015

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Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Inventory of the ‘Drawings of Old Trees, 2014 – 2015

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