Robin Vanbesien at Drop City

rv_dc_cwq_2_pear, no citizens

Artist: Robin Vanbesien

Exhibition title: citizen without qualities

Venue: Drop City, Newcastle, UK, Brussels, Belgium, Düsseldorf, Germany

Date: February 19 – March 26, 2016

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Drop City,  Newcastle, Brussels, Düsseldorf

The dream-figure of a citizen without qualities has been haunting my imagination while making the series of paintings for this exhibition. Someone who can only be noticed in her appearance, yet is without any special properties other than her lived experience. A singular being-as-such, she could be the “nameless girl” (in Roberto Bolaño’s novel Antwerp), or a messenger identified with their message (as Pasolini’s visionary Saint Paul); someone who neither belongs nor is entirely excluded and uncounted, a person dissociated from the current state of affairs, unrepresentative as she doesn’t point to a place to be occupied; a common stranger.

In my dream, this figure, in its cartoonish or mimetically anthropomorphic visibility, embodies the material for a society, where the social can no longer be defended by an image of order, but remains as the irreducible core of a life lived in spite of political and economic circumstances that undercut it.

Like dreaming, painting can be an oracular way of telling what crisis one is actually in. This crisis is one of “project”, or an exhibition aimed at concentrating and accelerating a network of relations linked with a subject. Instead, I opt to work with a crisis of dispersal, both a literal and a figurative dispersal of the figural in the painting, the paintings in venues, the venues in the cities. A reciprocal framing and de-framing is at stake between the painting (and the figure within it) and the environment it is (mis)placed within. Hence, I seek out the liminal point of discernibility of a deflated human figure, its staging in social spaces where the paintings are neither friends nor enemies. Thus, a citizen without qualities becomes a figure on trial, whereby its appearance as a subject is put on test for the public.

In collaboration with Drop City, Robin Vanbesien presents an exhibition of paintings across a number of venues, both public and private, in three cities: Newcastle, Düsseldorf and Brussels, in the period 5 February to 18 March 2016.


Robin Vanbesien at 47 Victoria Avenue, Whitley Bay


Robin Vanbesien at Armstrong Building, Newcastle


Robin Vanbesien at Armstrong Building, Newcastle


Robin Vanbesien at Armstrong Building, Newcastle


Robin Vanbesien at Armstrong Building, Newcastle


Robin Vanbesien at Hotel Ufer, Düsseldorf


Robin Vanbesien at Hotel Ufer, Düsseldorf


Robin Vanbesien at Hotel Ufer, Düsseldorf


Robin Vanbesien at Hotel Ufer, Düsseldorf


Robin Vanbesien at Saskia Gevaert, Brussels


Robin Vanbesien at Saskia Gevaert, Brussels


Robin Vanbesien at SUPERDEALS, Brussels


Robin Vanbesien at SUPERDEALS, Brussels

rv_dc_cwq_1_a concert for a gift

Robin Vanbesien, a concert for a gift, 2015

rv_dc_cwq_2_pear, no citizens

Robin Vanbesien, pear, no citizens, 2015

rv_dc_cwq_3_male, reclining

Robin Vanbesien, male, reclining, 2015

rv_dc_cwq_4_vision of closed eyes

Robin Vanbesien, vision of closed eyes, 2015


Robin Vanbesien, picture (mirror), 2015

rv_dc_cwq_6_vision in parts

Robin Vanbesien, vision in parts, 2015

rv_dc_cwq_7_body parts

Robin Vanbesien, body parts in BLUE water, 2015

rv_dc_cwq_8_vision of a dialogue

Robin Vanbesien, vision of a dialogue, 2015

rv_dc_cwq_9_female, reclining

Robin Vanbesien, female, reclining, 2015

rv_dc_cwq_10_ON guard

Robin Vanbesien, ON guard, 2015

rv_dc_cwq_11_adult, napping

Robin Vanbesien, adult, napping, 2015

rv_dc_cwq_12_NO sleep

Robin Vanbesien, NO sleep, 2015

rv_dc_cwq_13_letter from NO square

Robin Vanbesien, letter from NO SQUARE, 2015