Hans Theys is een twintigste-eeuws filosoof en kunsthistoricus. Hij schreef en ontwierp tientallen boeken over het werk van hedendaagse kunstenaars en publiceerde honderden essays, interviews en recensies in boeken, catalogi en tijdschriften. Al deze publicaties zijn gebaseerd op samenwerkingen of gesprekken met de kunstenaars in kwestie.

Dit platform werd samengesteld door Evi Bert (M HKA / Centrum Kunstarchieven Vlaanderen). Het kwam tot stand in samenwerking met de Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerpen (Onderzoeksgroep ArchiVolt), M HKA, Antwerpen en Koen Van der Auwera. Met dank aan Idris Sevenans (HOR) en Marc Ruyters (Hart Magazine).


Christophe Lezaire - 2021 - Alice in laboratoriumland [EN, essay]
Tekst , 2 p.




Hans Theys



Alice in Laboratory Land

About the work of Christophe Lezaire



Alice in Laboratory Land



When faced with the artist Christophe Lezaire’s doubts during a recent visit to his studio, the following words crossed my mind: first you need a vision, then a gradually sharpening, specific way of looking and feeling, then a predilection for certain materials or techniques, then a subject or two, then a sustained practice that allows both increasing dexterity and unpredictable derailments, then the necessary distance not to immediately destroy the objects created, and then enough stacking space.

The artist’s vision is the way in which he, she or they experience the world, a feeling about what is right and wrong, what can be put away and what we need more of; it is an ethical and aesthetic sense of direction, a dream, an aversion, an inspiration, a passion, imbued with hope, despair, faith or scepticism, and all this merged into a psychological mayonnaise that guides our movements.

All people probably have their specific way of looking, ordering, creating rhythm, interpreting. For artists, this way of seeing determines the appearance of their work. By doing things, by making, this way of seeing is gradually sharpened, even if it remains largely or completely unconscious.

Lezaire is a gatherer, not a hunter. He sees no great goal before him, which will soon assume an abstract form. He does not want to track down, slaughter and kill a great beast that will quickly become the Beast, the one that no one has ever seen. His gaze is directed towards the ground, where he discovers shells, pebbles, mushrooms, berries, bird nests and random patterns that remind him of bodyparts or appear like masks.

He is a man with an eye for the concrete, someone who cherishes things. Slowly these things reveal their ability to be something else. Sometimes, they accidentally meet and form a new object.

When he makes paintings, drawings or collages, it is not always possible to distinguish between these three calibrated forms because every possible action and every possible material comes into consideration. Lezaire’s studio resembles a laboratory where paper, cardboard, panel, canvas, glue, paint, pigments, thinners and other nondescript elements meet and together produce unexpected forms, often with beautiful, tender colour combinations, flowing or otherwise organic lines or marks, and wonderfully aged textures.

Among the sculptures he has made over the past year are also two object-paintings: one of which is framed by a green tension strap. Both have a beautiful almost living surface texture whose genesis cannot be traced. The artist tells me how he made the surface. Sometimes it succeeds, often it fails. Everything depends on dosage and timing. It needs a great deal of time and patience, as well as precision.

One sculpture consists of a thick rope that was painted red and then unravelled into six strands. They are suspended from six nails at the top and curl towards each other at the bottom. A beautiful and defenceless work, whose vibrating line is reminiscent of the meandering surface textures of the abovementioned object-paintings.

The development of this kind of oeuvre demands a large amount of time, which is spent slowly and patiently in the studio, looking at and living with objects, scalpels, scissors, varnishes, pigments, all kinds of glues and so on. The objects come from oft repeated strolls around the largest flea market in the country, where Lezaire goes in search of beautiful books, CDs and other, indescribable objects that appeal to him. Yet he is not a ‘hoarder’, as we would say today. His house and studio are tight, accessible and brightly lit. Here and there we find small objects that he cares for like a mother and disassembles like a delicate whippersnapper.

Certain collages consist of thinly cut strips of canvas that are glued to heavy paper in an undulating movement. Later, the same strips are also used to make a hanging sculpture.

‘I’m like Alice in Wonderland,’ says Lezaire, ‘building a safe and familiar fortress with the objects that I find along the way.’ Not only do we feel the world view and the vision of a caring, gathering man, but we also become familiar with his way of seeing, which reveals itself in a related way in every work. We feel his dedication and attention. We become acquainted with seriousness and play, like the merging sides of a Möbius strip. We meet tenderness, vulnerability and perseverance. We meet a human being.



Montagne de Miel, 6 January 2021