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#24 Photography as a basis

Speaking: Tom Woestenborghs

The art works of Tom Woestenborghs look photographic, in fact they are built from tape and plastic foils.

The year that visual artist Tom Woestenborghs (1978) turned 40 and feared an artistic midlife crisis, he decided to focus solely on the creative process. He limited himself to three subjects: floral still life, abstract and feminine nude.

While he is building his exhibition at Pennings Foundation he gives an explanation.

“I was trained as a painter. After my studies (at St. Lucas and the Higher Institute of Fine Arts, both in Antwerp) I started making video installations, then graphic images on light boxes and then collages with foils and tape.

I was a socio-political engaged artist. Around the age of 40 I was tired of looking for social themes. Then I started to limit myself to the three basic themes: abstracts, nudes and flowers. Layer on layer I apply plastic foils or tape, just like you build a painting. I use different types of tape and foils, including band aids, painting tape and adhesive tape, both textile-like and transparent. The textile tapes have a tactile effect."

Petra Cardinaal welcomes the visitors at the opening of the exhibition of Tom Woestenborghs (middle). At the right: Frank Taal. This exhibition was organized together with Frank Taal Galerie. photo Hetty de Groot

“The art works look photographic, in fact they are collages. I choose the models myself, I don't want professional models. I take the photos of the nudes myself. First I make digital sketches for the collages. For the basic shape I make a mold or drawing. The plastics foils are cut into shape.

The surface is rhythmically structured, just like a painting. For a while I provided the collages with a layer of epoxy, but I stopped doing that to show the materiality of the image. The materiality is strengthened by the presentation in light boxes."

Journalist and art critic Edo Dijksterhuis interviewed Tom Woestenborghs. photo Hetty de Groot

Every collage is structured differently. One work is made up of pieces of tape, the other from foils, or a combination of tape and foils. The one is flat, in the other the suggestion of depth has been created.

The colors are generally hard, just like the colors in the advertising world. "The world has become formal and hard." But he also refers to the pre-Raphaelites, a 19th-century English group of artists who emphasized aesthetics and sensuality.

Every work is different. There are also photos and graphic work. Two flower still lifes have become almost abstract representations due to the enlargements. In fact, these photos are a comical reference to traditional Austrian chair covers from the fifties and sixties.

When asked why he doesn't show a male nude, he answers that no men were willing to pose for him ...