ART > 2016 - 2017 >
Repeatedly, I come back to the subject of the universal mythic and mysterious volcano. That, along with mountain-like formations, caused by either the shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates, or human-made mounds and temples, are powerful and intriguing to me and go along with my interest in the “Migration of Forms.” In this case, the form’s mass goes from heavy to light, culminating in a peak, zenith point. You can see this recurring gesture in my artworks from the past decade, such as the illuminated sculpture series "Vague Object Motifs (VOMs)" (2012-13), the Witte de With commissioned poster "Imagination Creation" (2019), and the 15.5m wide textile work inspired by folk singer Bobbejaan Schoepen "Chicken Frying, Fire Breathing, Son-of-a-Gun" (2020).
Another interest of mine, “The Construction of Appearances” or “How Culture Represents Itself” relates to the facade, which I believe is in relation to a hierarchy inherent in the form of the volcano and mountain-like formations. The facade in terms of “superimposition”(see below), in relation to the order of columns and thus the facade (which at times hosts columns), is basically where the higher one goes, the more complex things become. I see this as a symbolic metaphor of the journey from bondage to sovereignty.
“A metonym for architecture as a whole, the facade is the element vested with the most political and cultural meaning.”^1 [...] “Before the facade as a whole crystallized in the field of vision of the theoreticians, their attention was centered on the column, the capitals, the woodwork, and other forms of embellishment [...] As the most important elements of what would later be called the ‘facade,’ the columns can be arranged in two ways in the surface of the front of the building. The first principle is what [Swedish art historian] Erik Forssman [1915-2011] calls ‘superimposition.’ Superimposition came into practice in ancient Roman times when, if various orders of columns were mixed into one facade, they were arranged in fixed rows above one other, such as the Colosseum in Rome (ca. 80 AD) [...] The richer orders were placed above the simpler ones: the Doric level at the bottom was followed by Ionic and Corinthian levels above.”^2
[...] “Just as [Italian Humanist Leon Battista] Alberti (1404-1472) transferred the ‘superimposition of the Colosseum’ onto the facade of the Palazzo Rucellai, Brunelleschi conferred the syntax of the ancient facade onto the early modern palace.’^3
Rem Koolhaas, Elements of Architecture* (Cologne: Taschen GmbH, 2018), 865
(above): a model volcano, as pictured in a film still from “Joe Versus the Volcano” (1990).
Note: Joe, the protagonist of the film, after being diagnosed with a mysterious ailment, is miraculously enabled to undertake an ultramundane journey which leads him to visit the souls in Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, much like Dante in Dante Aligheri’s epic poem, “La divina commedia” aka “The Divine Comedy.”
The volcano, in this case, is symbolic of paradise as well as something to strive towards in the hero’s/heroine’s journey from bondage to sovereignty.
Mid 15th century: Alberti’s Palazzo Rucellai, Florence: first use of superpositioned columns in a private house.
80 AD “Colosseum”: Doric column at the bottom, followed by Ionic and Corinthian levels
Sebastiano Serlio’s paradigm-setting drawing of the five orders: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Composite.