Bruno Mertens (°1968) is a Belgian contemporary multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Wondelgem.
"Bruno Mertens is an artist who avoids obsessively controlling the materials with a skilled hand. Instead, he seeks to liberate them, allowing the creative process to unfold naturally. He guides this process, knowing when to intervene and when to let it take its course. This unconventional approach often results in a remarkable symbiosis, where the resulting artworks don't appear "crafted" but rather seem to emerge on their own. While a significant portion of Mertens' work may be "destroyed," what remains or emerges from the ashes possesses a unique and wondrous quality. (...)
Mertens' artistic journey is akin to the twists and turns of life itself. It meanders, takes unexpected paths, endures trials, and shows resilience in the face of adversity.
Yet, Mertens approaches his art like a healer*, mending the creative process in his distinct manner. He never attempts to fully control or define the soul of his creations, allowing for gaps and openings that provide avenues for interpretation and escape. (...)
One may observe his artwork, such as the captivating amalgamation of colors on the wall, characterized by a rugged surface with cracks and openings. Within this chaotic display, one might discern primitive masks or other forms. It is constructed on a foundation of vinyl with layers of acrylic paint, embodying both the resilience of age and the healing process. It carries a sense of history within its layers. (...)
Mertens defies conventional artistic norms, engaging in painting, cutting, hammering, and construction with disregard for traditional aesthetics. His relationship with the material is exploratory and undefined, leading him into unknown territories. However, in all his work, there is an element that resonates with images of heads or houses, symbolizing the presence of an escape route or a path to understanding. (...)
In conclusion, Bruno Mertens' art is a testament to the pursuit of artistic freedom, breaking free from conventional boundaries and expectations. His creations bear the hallmark of an artist who allows materials to follow their own course, resulting in remarkable and authentic pieces that carry a unique sense of history and emotion. (...)"
*a healer is a person who seeks to cure diseases or heal injuries by other means than conventional medical treatments.
Excerpt based on longer text on Bruno Mertens' artwork by Johan Debruyne, Writer and Art Critic. Translated from Dutch by PARCE.
"I remember my first visit to Bruno’s studio. In a moment, I observed numerous paint fragments, and I wondered… What were they part of? Where had the other parts gone? So, we started to dig, as if something was calling to be found. There were more art pieces, but something else was calling. And then… one appeared. An explanation of those paint fragments, a canvas that was no longer just a canvas with painting that was almost no longer painting. I asked what it was, how it came to be, and then he answered me:
It is Mira.
And so, the adventure began. The thing that had been calling, the one that wanted to be found, now had a name. It was no longer a thing; it had a name.
I remember saying: “ezquisofrenic” and Bruno being surprised of such a word. But… to see a face, to perceive a kind of person in something that is not a person, is a unique
aspect of perception.
And I saw it. I saw Mira once he told a name. I saw the eye and felt the presence of a second, non-existent eye. I saw the mouth and sensed the expression. I saw the painting, and I felt the person. When I contemplated this experience, I couldn’t help but wonder: Are there more?
Because… if there’s one, why not more? It didn’t feel like Frankenstein, which had to be singular; it felt plural. And I am a fan of plurality… And then, another emerged. But I still pondered: Are they more?
It was as though the paintings (or entities) before of us were hinting that they were not yet complete, that they were more. Many.
We proposed that he create one on a larger format. Suddenly, Bruno began creating so many that it felt as if it could be an infinite endeavor, perhaps even spiraling out of control. So, I found myself pondering: Are the paintings speaking to him? You know, because I had that feeling…
And … it doesn’t need to be in words. Art speaks in many languages. I felt they whispered in my ear, “multitudes” but I’m not the creator, so it might have been that they yelled him (in the language of art) demanding to be created, as if it were their right to exist!
And so, he did a town…
He brought to existence multiple entities.
I guess that’s how it works in art; sometimes we simply follow what must be.
At times, we can’t even keep up, just trying to catch a glimpse. We love art, and hopefully, art loves us in return (because art can be fun yet exhausting and exceptionally demanding. It might even demand everything from us, only to then appear to abandon us while it continues its own existence). Beauty commands, regardless of whether it takes the form of ugliness, and that’s why a piece of art can be a treasure.
In the work of Bruno, I perceive and experience the word “many”, and a word that I love: “multitudes”. I hear many, even when there is no sound. I observe the colors, the
pigments, and the intriguing process that brings them to life.
Text by Laura Peña, director of PARCE
Exhibition Bruno Mertens
21 October - 7 December 2023
*22 - 28 November closed,
due to of our participation in the FIA Barcelona Art Fair
21 October 2023, 6-9 p.m.
Art + Bites workshop
18 November from 2-5 p.m.
19 November from 11 am - 2 p.m.
19 November 2023, 3-7 p.m.