Duration_ September 16–October 21, 2023
Opening_ Saturday, September 16, 4–7 PM
Opening_ Saturday, September 16, 4–7 PM
Gallery Vacancy is pleased to announce Domestic Blitz, a solo exhibition by Charline Tyberghein, on view from September 16 to October 21, 2023. Featuring eleven new paintings, the show marks the occasion of the artist’s premiere presentation in Asia, and highlights the different stylistic strains of her practice in the multi-faceted series of works. The literary and semantic quality of Tyberghein’s work comes through in the title of Domestic Blitz. In this new body of work, the artist directs her focus towards the household setting. Extending on our utter familiarity with its accoutrements as a basis for illusionistic exercise, the artist incorporates mundane objects–fixtures, furniture, and cutlery–from a blissful domestic life and “blitz” them through her painterly blender.
Depicting enigmatic combinations of abstract patterns and pictographic images, Tyberghein’s paintings build upon the use of everyday objects and common symbols found in the historical legacy of Belgian Surrealism; however, her works estrange from the former’s banality through subtle modification and unexpected displacement. Her humorously puzzling compositions suggest the chromatic vibrancy and semiotic richness of René Magritte updated for our present times. In her paintings, the artist assembles seamless visual puzzles that never betray the manual intricacy required to produce them. Executed in acrylic and oil on canvas, the perfection found in the misplacement of the images is created entirely by hand without recourse to digital tools, belying their uncanny exactitude of line and complexity of interplay between the rigidity and absurdity. Nevertheless, in the application process, the demand for technical rigour is so high that it leaves little room for free expression. Thus, the selection and placement of each specific item and pattern take on a new significance, not unlike a poet’s meticulous word choice for a sounding melody. In this way, each of Tyberghein’s paintings is at work with a broader poetic tradition particularly synonymous with the defamiliarizing wordplay of her fellow Surrealists, such as Paul Nougé and E.L.T. Mesens.
In Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket (2023), Debt or a loan (2023), and the show’s titular Domestic Blitz (2023), the flat, grid-like layout of the relief-ed shapes may recall the tabletop landscape of the board game “Clue”, where its placement of banal yet charged items across the scene of a crime suggests looming danger and a hidden backstory. While this is a constructive device that was often employed by early Surrealist painters, Tyberghein, however, chooses to eschew the use of human figures, along with their function in narrative formation and scene-making. Rather, the artist is in favour of a more contemporary procedure, turning instead to isolate de-contextualized objects and subjecting them to a sophisticated optical play of trompe l’oeil.
The rope, visible in many of the exhibited works, is a prominent motif throughout Tyberghein’s oeuvre. It is not only a symbol evocative of both danger (as a murder weapon in “Clue”) and utility (as twine used to hold in place storage closet miscellanea), but also adds movement to the still-life compositions. As seen in More crumbs!!! (2023), it slithers across the canvas and coils into the shape of a smoking cigarette; the “smoke trail” wriggles upwards to highlight the intricacy of the work’s visual architecture. Here, accompanied by the rare appearance with another trademark of her work– the cigarette–the duo marks an additional feat for the show. The latter’s eerily photorealistic portrayals in Domestic Blitz (2023), coupled with the burnt matches in Pour me (2023), were inspired by the once ubiquitous sight of smoking in Europe. The ensemble creates a visual effect akin to a live actor’s cameo in an animated film and further accentuates the overall diversity of the paintings’ compositional complexity and technical bravura.