Bernd Lohaus Prize awarded to Gert Robijns
When considering the recipient of the Bernd Lohaus Prize only the artistic qualities of an oeuvre are taken into account, not the artist’s age or the medium in which he or she works. Anny De Decker, Stella Lohaus and last year’s winner Maurice Blaussyld selected a number of artists who had particularly attracted their attention in the previous twelve months. Catherine de Zegher, Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent, was then asked to visit the artists and name the award-winner. Her decision is based on the work and her meeting with the artist, not on reports or intermediaries. Catherine de Zegher has awarded this year’s prize to Gert Robijns.
Robijns often plays with unusual arrangements of ordinary objects, transforming the quotidian into the poetic. Prone, aslant or transplanted objects are deployed in unexpected arrangements or rebuilt on a different scale. To cite an example, he rebuilt the village where he was born, ten kilometres away, on a scale of 75%, in white. Robijns is currently working on RESETHOME, a project involving the destruction of his grandparents’ former home – all but for two walls – and its reconstruction ten centimetres away as a sculpture/art pavilion where other artists can work, exhibit and stay.
Although this kind of referencing is by no means a requirement, for the award ceremony on 1 November 2014 at LLS 387 ruimte voor actuele kunst, Gert Robijns produced an arrangement that is directly related to the playful, poetic aspect of Bernd Lohaus’s work and ideas. Robijns’s watercolours of everyday items, foodstuffs, and plants of all kinds evoke Lohaus’s watercolours of flowers: in terms of colour, size, white space and medium they have much in common, although in the use of colour and line the work of each artist displays an inherently personal hand. At the same time, Robijns’s watercolours – grouped in fixed series or in conjunction with other objects – form an internal dialogue that is particular to his wider practice. The artwork with the title LOHAUS, which has been specially made for this occasion, consists of two large, superimposed photographs: a detail of the shelves in the storeroom and former studio of the German-Belgian artist, where Lohaus’s works are archived, is just visible beneath a topographic photo with a very low horizon. The large sky with its fleecy clouds and the glimpse of the Limburg landscape in which Robijns works each day on RESETHOME connects his own artistic practice with that of Lohaus in a generational overlap. In the sky a group of migratory birds form a sideways letter L. The superimposed images and the second ‘horizon’ of the white edge of the top photo are an abstract reminder of the quays of the River Scheldt in Antwerp, close to the place where Lohaus spent much of his artistic life.
Gert Robijns (Sint-Truiden, Belgium, 1972) studied at the LUCA School of Arts in Brussels from 1992 to 1996 before becoming a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht (the Netherlands). Two artist’s residences followed, at PS1 in New York and the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. Since 2001 he has been a guest lecturer at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. In 2011 Robijns received a good deal of critical attention for The Village– his reconstruction of the village where he was born, several kilometres away. RESETHOME is due to open in 2015.