My work is a story of the confrontation between culture and nature and its impact on the plastic arts. It began in 1972. I painted realistic landscapes, almost hyper­realistic panoramas in wich I introduced an abstract painting by Rothco, an abstract expressionist of the New York School. It is a painting within a pain­ting. An abstract painting surrounded by the figurative. (i)

What is the message of this work? Man can not refrain from constant inter­fe­ring in the development of the environment that surrounds him. He organises nature, he directs it. Flora and fauna must serve him, economically, socially and esthetically. For example a park is laid out. Such an operation has as a conse­quence for the destruction of the existing vegetation, but at the same time a recon­struction shaped like geometrical avenues, flowerbeds, ponds, lawns etc. Against these inter­ventions nature reacts and resists. Some plants pine, wither away, while others grow up on the border of the flowerbed. The instant that man ceases his inter­vention, nature begins its reconquest. This confrontation bet­ween culture and nature has been translated into my paintings and drawings.

At the same time, I was interested in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche speaks about an Apollonian and a Dionysian aspect of art, with wich he meant the two opposite sphères of life. Apollo is the god of the clearness and the reason. Dionysos is the god of the spontaneity and the sentiment. Nietzsche has devel­oped these contradictions in several opposite notions: measure versus passion, law versus liberty, cosmos versus chaos, static versus dynamic, etc. In this sense I am confronted with my environment: tele­phone-posts against struc­tures of trees, delimitations of highways against the natural structure of sand or gras. I don't want that the different ele­ments in my paintings are re­cognized as things, but that they have a pictural signification. I don't paint a white post against a green bush, but a static white against a dynamic green.I make a pictural translation of reality.

Soon, my own designs replaced those of Rothco. And gradually I allowed the painted mimesis of a real landscape to encroach upon the abstract part of the painting and vice versa. The nature shifts into the culture, the culture into na­ture. (i).

But for me, the intervention was still too small. In 1976, I placed fragments of nature, usually walls of vegetable matter, its green pigment removed, one above the other in such a manner that the separate, repeated pieces exactly fit together, that they seem to merge with one another. They lose their identity, and toge­ther form a repetitive picture. The technique is a collage of lithographs. After a while, I draw on these lithographs. This lyrical addition is compensated by the introduction of a rational element, namely a geometric figure such as a square or a rectangle (i).

At the base of this work, there lies a concept. The idea is more important than the visual perception. It is far removed from the expressionist principle: "I paint as I feel". At the base of my paintings lies the principle: "I paint what I know". My repetitive work has influences from different cultures and disciplines. For example: the geometric works of the Russian constructivist Malevich and the Belgian artist Dan Van Severen. The interweaving, interlacing of an element reproduced many times, usually a geometric motif, is found in Islamic as well as Germanic art . In the seventies I listened to the repetitive music of the Ame­rican composers Reich and Glass (i).

From the year 1980 my paintings evolved from repetitive to serial pictures.The technique is influenced by the action paintings of Jackson Pollock and the "écriture automatique" of the Belgian CoBrA artist Christian Dotremont. Also the oriental calligraphy had influence on my art. The material that I used ranges from airbrush-pistols and brushes, to sticks, rags and my own fingertips. The first is the most technical instrument, the last the most physical. Also in the ma­terial there is an opposition. But every instrument that I used, including the pis­tol, is just a tool, simply an extension of the hand and the hand an extension of the mind.(i)

The painting itself is constructed in layers. First onto the canvas come colors in red, yellow and blue touches. Then follow nuances in grey colors and in different transparant layers. The result of both phases is a softening of the violent start. To achieve an effect of freshness, the number of layers is very important. If there are too much layers, the painting loses his liveliness. If there are too little, the painting has too little power. This requires much concentration and an in­tense physical involvement.

The next layer is a latticework of lashes, strokes from the brush and scrapes from the stick. Sometimes I used my fingertips, an act that you can also see by action painters. Like a graffiti painter inscribing city walls with a spraycan, I added accents and lines with a decoration pistol in the completion of the can­vas. The number of actions varies between five and ten.(i)

In 1986, my mother died. This gave a rupture in my work. I made a series of pic­tures in mixed media, named "Kruisweg voor mijn moeder" (Way of the Cross of my mother). The sign of the cross breaks up. These works have one single charac­teristic of the Neue Wilde; not their way of painting but the blow up of the movement and the energy. These works have also the duality between dynamic and static, unrest and rest, hard and soft. These works are cerebral of conception and lyrical of realisation. The touches work as scars into the pictural canvas. These works form a counterpoint to the works of the 90's. (i)

In the 90's, I broke the evolution by introducing early work in a new entity next to recent realisations. What existed on it's own before, as an entity, is now boarded and creates a new unity. Both levels of painting are grafted upon each other. In this way their meaning has grown together. (i)

In this work, I show a fundamental interpretive characteristic of the human view on reality. In this way, my work becomes a metalinguistic art, a reflection of art on art. By grafting an earlier work upon a later one or vice versa, a new relationship originates between them, what the philosopher Nelson Goodman calls a patern-card versus the world to which these cards refer. The existing work loses its meaning, because it is torn away out of his preceding context, by which the very significance is generated. This disruption however unchains a new mea­ning. First alienating by the dislocation, then suddenly opening a new meaning by juxtaposition. The older work becomes an example of the princi­ples that exemplify the new work. The exemplification signifies, as in a pattern-card, that some features stand out more clearly.

With this work, I fully join the fundamental art of painting. The art of painting, in search of his own fundaments, but luckily finding only a part, a pattern-card of them. These paintings are referring in twofold. First, they show the ele­ments of the pictural qualities: soft or rough texture, densily covering or transparant density. Secondly referring to different styles of art or at least to two opposite ways of painting, in which the same facts are differently interpreted.(i)

My art does not depend on pro- or antitraditional elements, but rather on the mental-plastic question of the work of art. The idea of perpetually moving for­ward, of pushing the limits, as happens in science, is of minor importance in art. Science is a process of becoming, art is a process of de-becoming. Science is trying to control the world, art is trying to liberate it. This is why it is important to pay attention to the attitude of art, which has remained unchanged since the beginning of human life: to communicate with life in a more intense way.

Marcase: Abstract in aanplant 1973 - mixed media - 70cm x 70cmMarcase: Structuren in evolutie 1981-82 - coloured collage - mixed  media -160cm x 420cm. Collection: MuZee OstendMarcase: Geordende structuren II 1978 - mixed media - 100cm x 120cmMarcase: Vijf Impressies 1983-84 - acrylic on canvas - 290cm x 900cm - fivefoldMarcase: Studie 1984 - acrylic and grafhite on paper -  30cm x 30cmMarcase: De ontdekking van de nacht 1991 - acrylic on canvas - 150cm x160cmMarcase: Landscape’s Memories X  1996 - acrylic on canvas - 60cm x 50cmMarcase: Landscape’s Memories XII 1996 - acrylic on canvas - 150cm x 160cmMarcase: De schaduw kleurt de ruimte I 1997 - acrylic on canvas - 80cm x 100cm 





Prof. Dr. Willem Elias: Vrije Universiteit Brussels

Cat. Marcase, Moving Space. 1989

Translated by Dirk Crommelinck

The pure work of art is not a work of art, but a material thing; for instance a flat with spots of paint, a bearer with a medium. No work exists without the existence of another work. Nevertheless, those people who would have used, in earlier days, the word 'exist' on purpose; the existentialists, believed that everything was to be found within the work, but nothing out of it. Their opponents in that matter, the so-called structuralists, thought of it the other way around. A work of art can only get its meaning from things that occur around it.

In his late work, Marcase touches that specific topic. Early on, Marcase has been paying a lot of attention to the serial and the system of significance production attached to the serial mostly consisted of slowly advancing evolutions based upon a repetitive cadence. Each time there was staged a slight difference, so that within the structure, built up by the repetition. a meaning came to life by creating that slight difference. Not what existed, but what didn't exist determined the meaning. It showed exactly what other surrounding works did not: difference.

Nowadays, Marcase hasn't broken with the serial, but with the evolutive linear: a rupture in the continuity of his serial thinking. He breaks the time-lag by picking up earlier work in a new entity next to recent realizations, thus shaking up the idea of entity itself. What existed on itself before, what was entity, is now boarded and creates a new unity containing a strange element. Strange because originated in another constellation, to become unstable itself as a temporary totality, because the new element gets an own historicity as well. Both levels of painting are grafted upon each other: Thus their meaning has grown together.

Back to philosophy. One could carry back the main debate in present-day thinking to the difference in worldpicture between Plato and Nietzsche. Then one acquires a notable succession of oppositional notions: earnestness and playfulness, the fundament and its dismantlement, the centre and the absence thereof, the origin and what always comes before it: the whole and its completion, the oneness and the want or the surplus, the referring and the aesthetical action, sense and meaning,figure and track, the being and the difference, what is present and what detached, the face to face of sub-jeçt and object and the mutual insertion of bath in a proces of concatenation.

In the succession of oppositional notions, Marcase clearly associates with the thinking-power considered by Nietzsche. To Nietzsche, there are no facts, only interpretations. The truth becomes an illusion, and knowing the truth originally served as a means of human selfmaintenance. This instrumental and illùsory characteristic of the truth was, according to Nietzsche, forgotten, so that people started to believe in the truth as if it was the entrance to the essence of reality. In his late work, Marcase shows us this fundamental interpretative characteristic of the human .point of view on reality. In that way, his work becomes a metalinguistic art, a reflection of art on art. This occurs in a very special way. By grafting an earlier work upon a later one or vice versa, a new relation originates between what Nelson Goodman calls a pattern-card and the world to which this card refers. In the new picture-level, Marcase shows, through his own writing, it is true; aspects of 'picturality', which he confronts with each other in a state of tension of almost zero degrees. The disruption however unchains a new meaning. First alienating by the dislocation, then suddenly broaching a new meaning as a juxtaposition. The older work becomes an example of the principles that exemplify the new work. The exemplification signifies, as in a pattern-card, that some features stand out more clearly. The pattern-card refers to the whole, without possessing all the characteristics of it.

Marcase fully joins the fundamental art of painting, i.e. the art of painting in search of its own fundaments, but luckily finding only a pattern-card of them. The new panels are referring in twofold. Firstly, they show the elements of the pictural qualities: soft or rough texture, crusty densely covering or1ransparent density. Secondly, referring to the of universal art of painting or at least to two opposite ways of painting, in which the same facts are differently interpreted. It is this different interpretation that makes clear the differing of the medium. Through the juxtaposition of the old work, a relationship to an earlier work; result of applying the pattern-card; orginates, then hidden because present in the inner life. Thus there is a double relationship. For the experiment of the fundaments is not really a pattern-card, but exists as autonomous painting. From this double bond a multitude of meanings arises like Derrida's deconstruction.

Let us now leave out philosophy. The recent work of Marcase is a further step in his development of forms, after a break. Marcase started his oeuvre with reflections upon nature. The transience of nature was conceptually embedded in repetitive work: the eternal return of the identical. This static constatation led to a dynamic principle that created movement in the tangle of cutting coats of paint. From an overflowing composition, sometimes bearing a discolouring streak of light, he developped info the inquiry of breaking-points of the linear expansion of lines: the engraving as an indication of the turn. AII of this was do ne on the sensitive background of small piaster tables, penetrable bearers of the registration of immediate 'grafism'. In the margin, the colours were set: the limits of the ritmic game. Lines and colours have found each other again, after the mutual excommunication. They are not pure, they cannot be numbered in the classifications of the colourman. Intertwining relationships, the category of colour-likes: drab, transparents, blue-green and vice ver- sa, metallics, spotted intellectual, pale, unobstinate transparent, refusing to cover. In some place disturbed by a piece of crusty paint, like a stone in a froggery. Sometimes concentrated around a block, protruding out of the flat. A protesting detail facing the serenity of the name refusing colour-likes. A thorn in the side of the meditating spectator: But the allegation itself makes us think. It breaks through the unreflecting brooding and puts the necessary questions. It restrains us of a journey to one pole, shows us earth next to air, fire next to water:

In these panels of meditation (the East is near) appearsa line. Not as spasmodic as in the previous phase in Marcase's painting, but rather resigned, reconciliated. Now excitingly agressive, now let-down depressive. Regenaration, but transience as well. The line is in search of its way: elegantly or abruptly, smoothly or jerkily. Calligraphically rivalling Beauty itself or introvertly signalling the identity of its engraving hand. Volatile floating above the colourfulness of its background or penetratingly scratching the vulnerability of its bearer:

With or without the philosophy, it becomes clear that Marcase has an eye tor the dialectics between two poles that continually disturb each other's hegemony. Through this disturbance they gain a constant differing balance. The terms, used by Nietzsche, that refer metaforically to these two ways of looking at the world, are not far off. To Nietzsche to live is to interpret. The will is the centre of things.

He juxtaposes Apollinic and Dionysian as two different ways of interpretation, as two kinds of will, namely the desire tor the great, the complex, the uncertain, the startting. But in bath cases, Nietzsche finds that art justifies rite. To him, aesthetics are far more important than ethics.

Therefore he regrets that in the survey of philosophy the artist is left out. A century later there's hardly any change. Luckily philosophy is not left out where art is concerned.



De zuiver stilte verscheurd 1988 - acrylic on canvas - 50cm x 100cm - diptych

Enting van twee entiteiten I 1988-89 - acrylic on canvas - 50cm x 110cm - diptych

Relatie tussen violet, blauw, groen 1989 - acrylic on canvas - 50cm x 100cm   diptychDag & nacht 1989 - acrylic on canvas - 50cm x 100cm - diptychMarcase: De ervaring van een ogenblik 1989 - acrylic on canvas - 50cm x 100cm - diptychMarcase: Van een donkere grond omgeven 1988 - acrylic on canvas - 140cm x 50cm - diptych








Curator Provo Museums of Modern Art - West Flanders

Cat. ICC Antwerp, april 1983.

In the mid-seventies MARCASE drastically disassociated himself from Roger Raveel's colour technique in opposing black and white - as anti-colours - to Raveel's typical bright coloration; leaving painting completely behind tor lithography. Marcase was to find most of his inspiration in nature, keeping only same of its motives though, such as the tree and its leafy top. Motives he would use as a repetitive element in his compositions, thus trying to create a certain mobility, which he did achieve via lithographic reproductions of specific motives. In putting the latter next to, above as well as under each other he indeed managed to Game to systematic rhythmics.

With this technique, i.e. the use of one pattern (one and the same lithograph) he somehow referred to patterning-painting; and would be the only one to do so in our country. Soon he was to change the sensibility of this overall picture in painting nuances in ink, still without colours, over the affixed lithograph-assemblages.

The tonalities he obtained in doing so added more shades of lights and darks to his work, shades which concentrated mainly in the centre and thus created a spatial effect and gave it a certain transparence. The affixed lithograph sheets so to speak melted into one, although they were always supported by a geometric framework.

A geometric aspect Marcase was to stress in certain works, thus making them into more of an abstract construction. The motive as such was pushed aside to reappear in the fillings of the geometric structures only. With the light modulations as the only means to break this strict structure. Marcase wanted these light modulations to keep their decisive inportance, so he started looking for other means to create this impression of transparence and mobility. He stopped painting over the repetitive parts and began to use lithographic techniques to add variations to the motive: when printing he would cover certain parts or add elements here and there, so as to change the shape of the work. The repetitive character was kept in using the same lithograph over and over again, although a guiding process was to occur, which would go on until the composition itself had come to an end.

The eye could easily follow the course of a certain motiye through these juxtaposed and superposed lithographs and see it evolve towards complete simplicity and abstraction. The extreme consequences of this work being what they were, he was soon to move on to a new technique and colour choice. Until then, as is said above, colour had been absent from his work and only black and white, with the odd black derivative, had been used. Now MARCASE does put colour in his work. As far as its contents 'are concerned the motivation remains the same, although the repetitive element has been dropped and replaced by a se rial technique in which images of equal construction are used. Which is why his recent work should be seen as part of a series; nature remaining central so that the contents themselves do not change. The colours he uses are also copied from nature, and the variations are strongly reminiscent of the shades and tones aft he changing seasons. The lithograph is replaced by paintings within which several means, such as the stroke and touch or the scratch and daub technique, are fundamentally put into question to eventually have them acquiring a new dimension. The result being strongly spheric impressions of nature that move against a basis of sprayed backgrounds. The serial element now mainly lies in the repetition of one and the same composition scheme which varies only through its changing light and colour modulations. The style remains the same but is each time given new dynamics through the gestures made when painting and the function of the atmosphere one expects to find.

A new impressionism, one might say, in which the motives (representations) are brought back to a strict minimum, leaving the impression (memory) only. In times where brutal expressivity seems to be in (e.g. new expressionist painting) MARCASE 's work offers time for quiet relaxation, time to dream away without the slightest touch of hallucination.

   Marcase: Impressies I 1982 - acrylic on canvas - 200cm x 200cm - a series of 3 paintingsMarcase: Impressies II 1982 - acrylic on canvas - 200cm x 200cm - a series of 3 paintingsMarcase: Impressies III 1982 - acrylic on canvas - 200cm x 200cm - a series of 3 paintingsMarcase: Geordende structuur 1 1979 - mixed media - 150cm x 150cm  




Glenn T. van Looy

Cat. ICC Antwerp, April 1983.

Art does not depend on pro- or anti-traditional elements, but on the plastic problems that are inherent to a work of art and that are, or are not (as the case may be), brought to the fore or solved by it.

MARCASE, Statement in « Art in Belgium ", 1977

As far as I am concerned, MARCASE'S statement about his own productivity, though made six years ago, seems relevant to art in general and to his own art more particularly. One theme is present, be it implicitly or explicitly, in all of his works, i.e. that of nature: trees, tree tops, meadows, the seasons etc. In moulding and working with these elements he indeed provides the image with a new dimension. Or to put things more generally: an inorganic, monochrome and static (Apollonic) element is added to an organic, colourful, mobile (Dyonisian) structure; and sometimes repetitive reproductions of such static elements are made or fragments of one drawing lined up in serial sequences. Picturally, MARCASE was influenced by the fundamental movement. Which shows in the way he spreads his touches over the entire canvas. It are these pictural elements, together with his well-studied, subtle colours, which are inherent to the subject, that determine the visual impression one gets when looking at the exhibited works. Most of the works consist of several parts (serial aspect), each of which creates a certain, specific atmosphere. To do so one background colour is used, across which graceful calligraphic touches are spread. The central element on the canvas is reminiscent of a monolithic, monochrome shape which either absorbs or radiates light. The intensity of this element's colours definitely modulates the particular atmosphere of the part in which it finds itself, if not that of the entire painting.

MARCASE grants an atmosphere to what could be called primitive traditional elements, using a minimum of pictural means and a maximum of suggestive power to do so.

Marcase: Meditatieve tekening V 1979 - mixed media - 73cm x 55cmMarcase: Meditatieve tekening V 1979 - mixed media - 73cm x 55cm