Collection de Solides is Vermeiren’s first solo museum exhibition since 1995 (b. 1951). The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue are based around the Belgium artist’s most recent sculptures and photographic works (made between 1997-2003).
In Vermeiren’s internationally acclaimed oeuvre two categories of work may be distinguished – the so-called plinths and the chariots. Several of these works in the exhibition provided a context for a now evolved third category, the solides plastiques series. The name refers to the transformation of clay – from soft and pliable during handling to hard and solid after the firing process. Vermeiren’s sculptures always refer to other sculptures. Clay, an essential yet ultimate invisible element of the production process, is now sculpture. Within the field and history of sculpture, he continues to delve meticulously into his deliberately well-defined territory. The sculptures illuminate the various relationships between body and mass, sculpture and plinth, form and mould, immobility and movement, the position of the sculpture in space and the relationship with the spectator.
In order to produce a sculpture, a sculptor traditionally models a form (positive) and makes a mould (negative). Vermeiren continually works by swapping and shifting these actions about. A similar development can be seen in his photographic work since 1977. A photograph halts our gaze, gives preference to a certain position from which the sculpture can be observed. At first glance Vermeiren’s new series of photographs for the Van Abbemuseum appear to abandon this unique viewpoint. Since the early 1990s Vermeiren has attempted to photograph a piece of sculpture from an infinite number of angles. By using a lengthy exposure the mass of the sculpture starts to move and seems to loose its gravity. F. van Lanschot Bankiers NV, Den Bosch, is the main sponsor of the exhibition and catalogue.