Out of Sight

In his fifth solo exhibition Strook – Stefaan De Croock breaks down boundaries yet again. The Bruges artist, known for his figurative compositions using scrap wood, searches for new pathways. His work is becoming increasingly conceptual, using ‘home-made’ materials including own paintings. He is inspired by what he calls non-places: deserted locations where humans once intervened. A deserted monastery, a ruin, a perished fishing boat: the eerie ambiance in/of such places is caught in material collages and paintings. At these non-places he finds scrap material which he disassembles for his artwork. But he takes photographs as well. Which lead to a new series of paintings.

‘Out of Sight’ can be interpreted as ‘seen no more’ or even ‘repulsive’. This title refers to desolate places, where STROOK sources his material.
But ‘Out of Sight’ also includes his famous ‘scrap wood faces’: these have been stripped of face, name and identity. Only expression remains. The base of which these figures are made – fragments of old doors, patinated wooden floors, split or disintegrated garage doors – displays use marks. Scars of the past, we all have them. This tension, layering and disunity is felt in all his compositions. Whether they are figurative or abstract.

Over recent years Strook systematically expanded his boundaries. His artwork using scrap materials has been picked up by galleries from Stockholm till San Francisco. Requests for prestigious collaborations are endless and counting. With his immense wall filling art, such as the Crystal Ship in Ostend, he has proved himself worthy of the big guns.

With this exposition Strook explores an new and exciting path. Non-places are still his starting point, but they have become more than just a source of scrap material. He now processes these places themselves, recreating them, making new material. Quite literally: he makes casts of the ground of these forsaken places. Which he combines with scrap material in his collages. In his paintings he goes even further. These are based on photographs of non-places. But he processes these images into new compositions with paint. When I start a ‘face’, the whole of the composition is already fixed in a design drawing. On the canvas of my painting I add surfaces intuitively, trying to play with perspective and dimensions, he says. I call it distorted realities: a kind of painted collages of imaginary places, on the verge of disappearing.

Don’t see Strook as a recycling artist. He creates expressive designs, which catch the stories behind non-places. And which sample the beauty of decay. But at the same time they symbolise how nomadic people handled their environment: they invaded it, make their mark and then let it all wither away. Strook does not take apart but rebuilds.