Tom Volkaert at Base-Alpha

Artist: Tom Volkaert

Exhibition title: Never the same face thrice

Venue: Base-Alpha, Antwerp, Belgium

Date: April 6 – May 13, 2017

Photography: We Document Art, all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Base-Alpha, Antwerp

In ‘Never the same face thrice’ Tom Volkaert (1989°) pushes against the boundaries of his materiality. Triggered by the craftsmanship of the sculptor Volkaert re-examines the characteristics of banal materials such as concrete, clay and plaster. By combining these seemingly trivial materials with silicone, metals and pigment he creates unconventional combinations. His primitive and brutal approach manifests in his pedestals, mounting systems and custom frames. Volkaert’s artistic practice is intertwined with his part-time job as a freelance technician at various galleries. During his creation process, his sculptures takes shape by decisions he makes from an attentive fascination for functionality. Resulting in characteristic and bizarre sculptures.

Volkaerts by functionality driven aesthetics continues throughout the whole space. A perfectly staged writing desk equipped with a letter tray, coffee cup and a vase filled with flowers, will effectively be used as office during the exhibition. Stool;stoel;stool; illustrates how everyday tools lose on their efficiency depending on their materiality. He manufactures surprisingly confrontations and breathes new life into ordinary objects. With Hitching post 1 and 2, he goes one step further, the suggestive title depicts a possible fictional function. For example, a place for putting away your horse. Volkaert suggests an imaginary world with an open start and an open end.

This symbiosis of functionality and materiality is his research and playground. A zone in which there is no place for sacralisation,  where self-reflection is highly valuated and in which the bystander transforms the sculptures. This is certainly in the rear space of the gallery where an assembly of various sculptures can be seen. The dust that was formed during the build up has been maintained deliberately. It gives the sculptures –literally- and extra layer that fluctuates according to the surface. As the spectators move between the sculptures little dust paths emerge. A clear example of how Volkaert questions the relationship between the artwork and the viewer and tries to open our conditioned behaviour. Ass well a critical swipe at the elevated status of art objects.

Steadily the Steering Wheel & Accessories, You look amazing and the onion pots stand in the room. They form, as it were, a company and in every construction lays a possible narrative. ‘Every frame must be a completely new drawing[1]’. An ambition that Volkaert achieves by preventing himself from ever singing the same song twice, never the same face thrice.


Parallel with ‘Never the same face thrice’ Tom Volkaert has a solo exhibition at CIAP. ‘Cart Wheels & Accessories’ is on view until 14.05.  Lombaardstraat 23, B-3500 Hasselt.

[1] The Nerd Twitter, Ren & Stimpy: Never the same face twice,

Tom Volkaert, Onion Pots, 2016-2017, ceramics, various dimensions

Tom Volkaert, Steering Wheels & Accessories #3, 2016, concrete, ceramics, silicone, pigments, 35 x 40 x 166 cm

Tom Volkaert, Steering Wheels & Accessories #4, 2017, ceramics, 40 x 40 x 190 cm

Tom Volkaert, You Two Look Amazing, 2017, concrete, ceramics, 45 x 45 x 150 cm

Tom Volkaert, Tour De Salami #2, 2016, concrete, ceramics, pigment, silicone, 65 x 77 x 6 cm

Tom Volkaert, Tour De Salami #4, 2017, concrete, ceramics, pigment, silicone, 62 x 77 x 5 cm

Tom Volkaert, Tour De Salami #6, 2017, concrete, ceramics, pigment, silicone, 62 x 77 x 5 cm

Tom Volkaert, Tour De Salami #7, 2017, concrete, ceramics, pigment, silicone, 62 x 77 x 5 cm