Description & Technical information

For Dan Van Severen, everything is part of a quest for the essential: unpretentious compositions based on a few motifs – circle, rectangle, square, rhombus – that become purified into the central cross as a near-obsessional starting point and terminus. The slow maturation process, further reinforced by choosing to work with ‘palpable’ materials like artisanal paper, pencil and tempera; the limited color-range with refined nuances of whites and grays. Van Severen is more a romantic or symbolist than an abstract artist. He does not make art that is based on pure calculation, that enthusiastically wishes to ally itself with the ‘scientific’ spirit of the age, as with the geometric abstract painters. And when he works in series, as well – like with these drawings – it is not a question of quantity. In an interview with Yves Gevaert in 1974, he comments about this: ‘For me the works in series are not a response to purely serial searches. In my work ‘the serial’ should be thought of in terms of pure exercise, a test of possibilities. It helps keep me awake. One always runs the perpetual risk of falling into a system and losing the essence.’ Van Severen’s work testifies to a great nostalgia for simplicity and authenticity, silence and restraint. Though in the middle of the modern age, he wants to evoke a sacral atmosphere, translating the unsayable of mystic experience into images. From the same interview in 1974: ‘I have the impression that in the current mental mess, a kernel of the essential still exists and remains preserved. And like a worldly monk I try to work with it. I believe in it, and that’s the only thing that drives my work.’

Date:  1973
Period:  20th century
Origin:  Belgium
Medium: Ink on paper
Signature: Both signed and dated on the reverse.

Dimensions: 22.5 x 29 cm (8⁷/₈ x 11³/₈ inches)
Provenance: Van Severen, Gent

Literature: Yves Gevaert, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Dan Van Severen 1959-1974, Bruxelles 1974, p.44 ill.
Jan Ceuleers, Galerie Ronny Van de Velde, The Mind of the Artist, 2013, cat. nr 86

Exhibitions: Bruxelles, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Dan Van Severen 1959-1974, 1974
Knokke, Galerie Ronny Van de Velde, 2013

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints