One More Day
Time. It’s a given that has long inspired artist Stefaan De Croock alias STROOK.In his sixth solo exhibition, ‘One More Day’, De Croock – recently tipped as ‘one to watch’ by the lauded photographer Stephan Vanfleteren – enters into dialogue with the abstract but undeniable given. Everybody knows how it feels to be overcome by the desire to turn back in time. With ‘One More Day’, the artist recognizes that desire but also uses the frustrating impossibility and barrier that comes with it.
It starts with the material STROOK uses to build his artwork. “‘Old wood’ might seem like a trivial thing but I look at it from a different perspective,” explains Stefaan. “To me, it’s something magical. It possesses a certain spontaneity that’s impossible to recreate. The colours, the paint, the relief… They form an esthetic imprint of everything that ever happened to the wood. You can ‘see’ time. It’s a privilege to be able to use it.”
Miami, Montreal, Bangkok, Mexico City or Ostend… His now famous portraits out of this old wood took him around the world. “I used to give them names and facial expressions but along the way, they grew more abstract. One example is the portrait I designed for the album cover of ‘Skepsels’ by Belgian band Het Zesde Metaal. The compositions became more subtle, the emotional load more powerful.” The faces of some of his recent works slightly turn away or are standing with their back to the beholder. In this, STROOK creates another barrier. For his newest work of art, De Croock went even further. He constructed two fragmented 3D-portraits and placed them behind blurred glass. From far away, you can discern a silhouette but as you get closer, the image gets blurrier. “It’s my interpretation of fading memories. The moment you experience something, it’s superfocused. From that point on, it starts to fade. You’ll never forget it but you will also never be able to relive that moment as vividly as when it happened, whichever way you try to approach it.”
The history of the wood adds an extra dimension to the portraits. “I combine wood from places like the Imperial Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland with wood from a bar in Kortrijk, Belgium or an old rectory in Kanegem, Belgium. Every piece tells a unique story but all those stories form a human silhouette. It’s one big metaphor; we are all an entirety made up of the different stories that shape us to who we are. This process of formation also leaves scars. That’s why I never alter the wood I find. In real life, people try to hide their scars but I can see the beauty in them. They are part of everyone’s unique story of becoming human.”