Liliane Vertessen, Peter Lagast

LV / LP

13.03.2022 - 30.04.2022

From March 13 to April 30, Zwart Huis presents the double exhibition LP / LV, which exhibits the painted record sleeves of Belgian artist Peter Lagast along with early neon works by iconic Belgian artist Liliane Vertessen.

For its next exhibition, Zwart Huis transforms the gallery space in the Rivoli into a fictional record store. No less than 100 vinyl records in remarkable record sleeves adorn the walls. They are the works of Peter Lagast (°1972). After graduating from the department of painting at the Hoger Instituut voor Wetenschap en Kunst (St-Lucas Ghent) in 1995, the artist followed a multifaceted artistic course consisting of drawing, painting, travel and sculptural excursions. In recent years, the focus has mainly been on the layering of paint on existing images, such as postcards, posters, paintings and especially on old record sleeves. It is the latter project and its impressive scope that will be highlighted during the exhibition 'LP / LV'.

Peter Lagast began painting record sleeves during a residency at Be-Part in Waregem in 2017, a practice that grew into an ongoing project and has since become a recognizable cornerstone in his oeuvre. In a shrewd and sometimes almost humorous way, the artist interacts with the visual characteristics inherent in each record sleeve. Details are highlighted - sometimes a body part, sometimes a word or a certain element - and provided with a new, painterly context. A number of recurring motifs can be recognized in the multitude of works on display: the house (the place), the woman (Eros), the landscape (Eden) and, above all, painting and its muses.

The layered images are reminiscent of our zap culture, which in the meantime has even become a swipe culture. This new visual culture is not only full of art-historical references and parodies, but also contains visual references to things that affect us and pass us by every day. Just as advertising turns into a news report, a travel story or an art-historical note, the various layers in Peter Lagast's images also merge seamlessly. They unleash an infinity of possible narratives, which are better left to the one viewing.

Neon works by Liliane Vertessen

The LPs are exhibited with very early neon works from Liliane Vertessen's musical jazz past. The artist is primarily known for her erotically charged and highly staged self-portraits. Since the 1970s, she has been one of the first Belgian artists to use her own body as an artistic medium. She performs herself in different sets and assumes various roles. The artist does this by dressing up in romantic robes, lingerie, tiger suits or men's costumes. The staged tableaux vivants are recorded on photographs. Afterwards, analog photos are colored and assembled with objects such as dresses, plush, fur and neon. These well-known self-portraits have their origins in Vertessen's past as a jazz musician. In the late 1960s, she sang with The Tweeters, a group that toured the jazz circuit for a while. She performed, among others, in the notorious Antwerp pub 'De Muze'. Each performance became a performance in which she dressed up with extravagant clothing and accessories. Photographs of these happenings form the basis of early neon works such as Subtone Agression from 1969 and Aunt Rosie and the Speedy Boys from 1973. The theatrical performances later grew into the provocative stagings that she captures photographically in her self-portraits.

A mysterious ambiguity lurks in the oeuvre of Liliane Vertessen: the provocative role-playing suggests a boundless exhibitionism. Nothing could be further from the truth. Time and again the artist flees into a role-play and hides behind a cliché of 'The Woman': the vamp, the frolic, the diva, the lady, the queen, the femme fatale, the whore, the innocent girl. Her true identity, however, remains elusive.

Vertessen's work initially received little recognition in the art world. What she did had no precedents: in 1975 Madonna did not yet exist, and Cindy Sherman had yet to begin her oeuvre. Nor were art critics receptive to the 'aesthetics of the brutal image', as propagated since the last decade of the last century by British artists such as Sarah Lucas, Tracy Emin and Sue Webster. Liliane Vertessen was ahead of her time.

Some highlights of her career include the double exhibition with Cindy Sherman at the PCBK Hasselt (1987), Liliane Vertessen and Wim Delvoye at the SMAK in Ghent (1989), Gedachtengangen (Passages of thought) at the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel (1989), Seven crimes one case at the PMMK in Ostend (1992), David Bowie and me at Studio Propaganda in Antwerp(1999) and more recently her retrospective A Love Supreme at the Museum for Photography in Charleroi in 2018. In 1996 she won the Culture Prize of the Flemish Community. Liliane Vertessen's work is included in important collections such as the MUHKA (Antwerp), S.M.A.K (Ghent), Belfius Art Collection, PMMK (Ostend), Museum for Photography Charleroi. Her work can also be found in the Flemish Parliament.

DJ sessions by visual artists

Every week the fictional record store in Zwart Huis will be brought to life with DJ sets during the exhibition. Several visual artists with a love for vinyl will stand behind the turntables to share their favorite records. Together they guarantee a wide range of musical genres. The program includes Bent Van Looy, Peter Lagast, Robin Vermeersch and SoundScore for a Sculpture, a project by Michiel Helbig and Raphaël Vandeputte. SoundScore for a Sculpture creates live explorative soundscapes that depart from a specific space or occasion and then enter into a form of dialogue. For each soundscape an integrated platform is created on which a changing line-up plugs in. Each time a unique and live generated collage emerges from an interaction with the location and the participants.

The DJ sessions are streamed by We are Various (WAV), a nomadic online community radio station with a physical base in Antwerp. WAV's program is diverse: soul, jazz, electronica, indie, rap, folk, wave, uplifting, downtempo, vocal or instrumental. The radio hosts are both local players and international DJs. Anchoring in the local community is important, but WAV's mission also consists of broadcasting the rich Belgian music scene to the rest of the world via the online radio waves.