Joëlle Verstraeten

 My work is the outcome of my exploration of found objects that most people discard: old vinyls, flattened aluminium cans, pieces of wood or metal, fragments of clothes become printing material. Only on paper do they reveal their texture and hidden beauty.

 

I also incorporate them in my paintings to create a contrast of surface, form and texture. It is a spontaneous work that allows me to explore the world of pop-art and to question the challenges of our modern society, in particular consumerism, feminism, the mundane, the exclusion. They are an X-ray of our society. On a personal level of interpretation, they represent memories that are at the foundation of our identity. A cotton dress belonging to a handmade trousseau, an LP record bring us back to the past; they become a visual testimony of our self and question the meaning of our life.

 

Instead of using a transfer material, I usually ink the object itself and print it directly onto the paper. The texture and embossing give an intimate feeling to the work. I carefully choose the paper I print on. Depending of my intention, I use traditional archival paper, tissue paper or handmade recycled paper that I make with my own discarded prints. Often I like to put a final touch (sewing the label or the button of the particular garment, hand-weaving felt on the print, stitching a badge,…) that illustrates my aim and creates a visual poetry and humor away from the stereotypes. Although I use a very traditional medium that allows making multiple originals, each piece is a unique adventure.

 

As a painter and printmaker, I create works that carry a badge of liberty, but the formality of the presentation is always an omnipresent constraint. I cannot escape this sense of linear structure and discipline in the final composition/installation of my work. In the end, however, it is the simple aesthetic of the chosen hues, the skillful use of the printing press and the seam lines that I sew on to the paper that complete my tailored artworks.

 

Since 1984 when I was practicing Law in Brussels as a lawyer and mediator, my interest in art grew and contributed to a continuous personal metamorphosis. In 2009, when my family moved to Houston, I decided to focus my energy on my artistic skills and to follow classes in printmaking at the Glassell School of Art, MFAH. I exhibit my work in galleries, art fairs, solo or group shows nationally and internationally. Most of all, I enjoy experimental collaborations with other artists such as Laundry with JeanF Jans (2013 and 2014), Bach à 4 mains with Italian/French composer, Tiziana De Carolis (2015), How would you like to be remembered with the writer and stage director, Clara Ploux (2016), Dry feet, a night for relief, an installation and video projection with Pablo Gimenez Zapiola (2017), and most recently L’enclos, cet horizon qui nous poursuit, a participating art residency with 9 other visual artists in Belgium ( 2018).

 

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