Different sizes, different propositions, different interpretations. Belgian artist Harold Ancart has concealed a world of his own in his paintings on display at the David Zwirner, London. The clear cut shapes of the icebergs hide more than what they truly suggest. The pastel colours contrast with the geometric lines and confer to the atmosphere of the two-story gallery, a poetic and uncanny climate.
The paintings are displayed sporadically, arresting the viewer and plunging their unconsciousness into each one of them. Small or larger canvas, they contain their own rhythm, their own colour palette, and their own secret narrative. There is no other choice for the eye except to decipher the different planes framing the iceberg’s angular surface.
The shapes within the bigger shape come to life: the face of a woman screaming, a tree, shadows of spirits emanating from the surface of the sea all seep through. As I stare, I am being enchanted by the subtlety of the milky tones. The colours speak a language which ignites a myriad of dancing memories and unconscious thoughts. The iceberg seems to be just a pretext to reflect the viewer’s inner world. It is as if Ancart had thought of every step leading us to journey into a temporary dimension. The lines of the sea and sky impose a beginning and an end, and as such, act as the constraints to our thoughts and dreams.
The time spent before each frame is infinite. Upon returning to each painting, I envision different stories invented in my mind, or reminisce on the past. Memory and subconscious seemingly interact with one another and discourse intensely, innocently charming the viewer to a figurative representation of an iceberg while giving them a taste of their own psyche. It is our choice to keep digging or to move on to the next work, but the process remains the same throughout (the exhibition). Intrigued, seduced, and then trapped in the imaginary space between the surface of the paint and the surface of our eyeballs. That space which we deliberately chose to widen or reduce is often overlooked, yet is an indicator of our intentions with the painting’s content.
Is the mind giving cues to the body to take a step closer? Not too far, but neither too close, respecting the painting and therefore the painter, means evaluating the perfect distance between our faces and the canvas. During the exhibition, I catch myself stepping out and then being drawn back within that crucial gap, giving the impression that I am “dancing” in front of the painting. As strange as it appears, there is no other way for me to appreciate Ancart’s work. I cannot help it but the shapes take on a different meaning whether I am placed afar, up-close or mid-way.
Without knowing in advance who will lay eyes upon his work, the artist seemingly creates the shapes and colours for an anticipated conversation within each frame. Oracle or simply exposing his emotions through paint and a canvas in an extraordinary and surreal manner, Ancart transports us from an exhibition set-up to a one on one exchange.
Freeze: Harold Ancart at David Zwirner London (31 August – 22 September 2018)