Over de kleuren van de stokken in het mysterie van de avond

  • 1985
  • Roger Raveel
  • oil on canvas
  • 100,5 x 81 cm (incl. lijst)
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1985
  • Inventory number 1476

The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.

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This painting by Raveel can be seen as a landscape with woodland. The foreground consists of a diagonal band of white, partly painted and partly consisting of unpainted canvas, bordered by a thick orange line. Four sticks have been painted on this, balanced together precariously. In the background there is a black outlined cube shape. The top right-hand corner of the painting is unpainted. Two thick lines of coloured paint form the transition between this corner and the landscape.

Raveel’s work contains both figurative and abstract elements and is classified in the New Figuration, a group which consists of Dutch and Belgian artists who used recognizable forms next to indefinable or ambiguous forms in their work. Raveel took his figuration from his direct environment in the Belgian town of Machelen on the Leie and painted familiar objects, and people and landscapes that he loved. The recognizable places and situations created in this way have an alienating character because of the addition of abstract or semi-abstract elements such as a white square, or the outline of a person filled in with touches of paint in different colours. These elements prevent the viewer from being presented with a finished image.

Raveel wanted to leave room for the viewer to fill in the image for himself and the abstract elements in his work often have an object-like character. You don’t know what it is but you do get the idea that it is something. Sometimes the “empty spaces”, such as the top right-hand corner in this painting, alert the viewer to the fact that he is looking at a painting, and indicate what a painting actually is: a canvas to which paint has been applied. In this way, Raveel focused attention on the painting as an object and on the spatial confrontation of the viewer with this object. However, the scene painted by Raveel on the canvas at the same time presents the viewer with the possibility of allowing himself to be transported until he comes across an abstract element which takes him back to himself and to reality. Raveel wanted to “create a work that is as complex as possible at the same time as forming a unity, just like life itself”. There is a constant interaction between the viewer and what is viewed, reality and illusion.

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