Review /

Fabrice Samyn Meessen De Clercq / Brussels

For the title of his exhibition “Vanishing Point of View,” Belgian artist Fabrice Samyn combines the terms “vanishing point” and “point of view.” Hence, most works in the show — paintings, installations, photographs and a performance on the opening night — deal with our sense of perspective. For Eclipse (all works 2011) for example, the artist incorporates a mirror in a telescope, which does not reveal the world but the observer’s own pupil.

A comparable approach can be found in Le Devoir de l’Oeil Concave, a photograph of Auschwitz in which Samyn reverses the perspective of the train tracks so that they now lead to the viewer, forcing him to face his responsibility. A wooden ladder stands upside-down, leading not to heaven but to earth. The ladder is, not coincidentally, a religious image, as the artist often borrows motives from the Bible and art history. Between Vanishing Points, for example, consists of two paintings hanging opposite each other in two different rooms. These are details the artist copied from a landscape depicting the vanishing point in The Marriage of the Virgin, painted by Perugino and later copied by Raphael. For the drawing Cochlea Christi, Samyn departs from a vanishing point in Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper located in Christ’s inner ear. He draws a fragment of the work while simultaneously adding the entire shape of the cochlea. That spiral form also returns in another work, for which a fossil was installed in the framework of a clock, emphasizing the fossil’s time-indicating potential. Formally versatile yet thematically coherent, Samyn’s show offers a poetic and philosophical refection on universal themes like time, perspective, our attitude towards the image (both the horror of Auschwitz and the sacred in religious paintings), life (his fountain paintings referr to the birth-giving act of ejaculation) and death. Though at times a risky endeavor considering the weight of the themes and the multitude of art-historical references, Samyn accomplishes his task without too many scratches.

by Sam Steverlynck