Sculpting and painting fuse in Dudelange exhibition
A sink, a grindstone funnel and a tractor outside are reminders that Remy Berchem’s Gallery 39 in Dudelange was once a farm. Now it is the location for Weltenbegegnung, an exhibition of two of Luxembourg’s most esteemed artists.
The two long-time friends and fellow artists decided to jointly showcase their paintings for the first time. It has yielded a show that that at first glance seems like two different universes clashing. But when you take more time to reflect, you start seeing similarities.
Fernand Roda is a student of that towering figure of German 20th-century art, Joseph Beuys. One side of the gallery shows Roda’s colourful interpretation of standard landscapes. While landscape painting is a very traditional form of art indeed, Roda forces you to look at it with new eyes.
The other side of Gallery 39 is less colourful, with black and white abstract forms gradually coming to life on the canvases of Bertrand Ney. Ney is actually a sculptor, something that is easy to see from his robust and static shapes.
Looking at Roda’s paintings feels like gazing into a series of never-ending hills in the country side. It sucks you into a psychedelic field, the grass moving in the cool wind that continuously blows. With small brushstrokes of bright autumnal colours, the works really come to life.
“Whenever I drive through somewhere and I see something that inspires me, I make a mental note of it,” Roda said in an interview. “I don’t make any sketches. For example, there are these landscapes that stoked my interest. For instance, when driving through the north of Luxembourg, you can see these wavey hills, and the transition between more flat and higher surfaces. That just stayed with me and I had to work on it. So, I sat in front of my big canvas, without any preparation, and started to work.”
Ney, an accomplished Luxembourgish-French sculptor, had to switch his artistic medium because of health issues. Now his sculptures jump off his flat canvases as if they are still in three dimensions. Withour colour, the greyscale illustrations of his stony shapes draw all your attention to shading.
At first sight, two art styles could not be further removed from each other than the worlds of these two creatives. But they have more in common than you might think. Both artists are showing interpretations of what interests them most: landscapes and sculptures. Both give their abstract take on a very tangible concept. Both are converting traditional art forms – landscape painting and sculpting – into more contemporary versions.
Both artists are giving evidence of a similar journey of rediscovering their traditional material. Both show a mature understanding of what it means to be an artist. Both artists at this joint exhibition show how they are trying to leave their personal mark on the world.