° Belgium 1986

lives and works in Bruges — Belgium


Sylvie De Meerleer participated at Coup de Ville 2016. This text was published in the catalogue.


Drawing gives a direct reflection of the artist’s intimate and mental process. Hesitation, serendipity and error leave traces. Nothing remains hidden. The purity of the medium provides a tenuous result. What happens under the skin is just what Sylvie De Meerleer captures in her drawings.


She questions the graphic line, the texture, the carrier and the method of presentation as building blocks of the medium. She extends the research with sculptural interventions such as transparent variants of drawings, pleated and sewn together. Or she cuts drawings and places them with each other in order to complete an image. Sometimes De Meerleer works with found image material. This is illustrated via her choice of ‘stills’ from pornographic films. Her focus is on imagery with volumes and graceful postures. She looks for the psychology of these characters and wonders whether there are in these confrontational images moments of tenderness and intimacy. Other images take shape by utilizing the possibilities of the drawing materials. Then she comes to an abstract representation of lines and points, focusing on the energy released during the working process.


In the Coup de Ville exhibition Sylvie De Meerleer combines drawings in amalgamation with a new work in which she further continues her investigation of tenderness, intimacy and tactility. She returns to a childhood memory in which for the first time she became aware of her physicality. Before she fell asleep as a child, her mother regularly drew figures on her bare back. The challenge was to find a balance between mental alertness and enjoying fading away. When she was able to guess what was drawn: a square, heart, sun, rain, hail, ... she was rewarded with an additional drawing. These soft engravings showed no physical or tangible trace, the drawings always remained invisible. It’s about a perception, sensing a culture that is not tangible. Unveiling such experiences seems almost impossible, which is why the artist opts for a video composition and a weekly performance in which she draws on the back of interested people in a private room.


Striving to reveal the importance of tactility and intimacy she revisits a youthful evocation and disseminates this among others.