Au gré de ses "déplacements"


Marthe Wéry
11.03.22 – 07.05.22

Présentée pour la première fois à La Patinoire Royale | Galerie Valérie Bach dans le corpus de l’exposition « Painting Belgium » en 2019, et à nouveau aux cimaises dans « Belgian Women » en 2020, Marthe Wéry (1930-2005) a désormais rejoint la liste des artistes représentés par la galerie.

Presented for the first time at La Patinoire Royale | Galerie Valérie Bach at the core of the “Painting Belgium” exhibition in 2019 and again with “Belgian Women” in 2020, Marthe Wéry (1930-2005) has since joined the list of artists represented by the gallery.

On this occasion, the gallery asked Pierre-Olivier Rollin, a specialist of the artist’s work, curator of the last exhibition held in her lifetime and of the last major retrospective at Charleroi’s BPS22 in 2017, whether he could imagine a great exhibition documenting her atypical career and emphasizing on some lesser known aspects of her work.

Unanimously considered as one of the great minimalist artists of the 20th century, Marthe Wéry dug her furrow with determination and discipline but no bitterness, managing to impose herself as a woman artist of international standing as early as the 1970s.

This exhibition therefore offers a large panel of her creativity, seeking to surprise and enlighten, highlighting her great sensitivity as an artist/philosopher.

Entitled Au gré de ses “déplacements” (Over the Course of Her “Journeys”), the exhibition provides an eventful itinerary through a work that never ceased to accurately explore the components of painting.

Born in Brussels in 1930, Marthe Wéry draws attention in the 1960s with her geometrical etchings and the first show under her name is held in Brussels in 1969 at the Saint Laurent Gallery. In the early 1970s, she engages into what she will later call her “journeys”, which will define her work : “I’d rather use the term “journey”, she explained, instead of “evolution”. When I speak of journeys, they are filled with the previously encountered questions and solutions. I don’t go from one body of work to another as if they were finite, successive periods of time”.

The first journey marks the abandon of geometrical painting. She then turns to a kind of minimalism, with grey compositions made of dense lines traced with a ruler. She is noticed on an international level and takes part in the Fundamental Painting exhibition at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum in 1974. Then there is Documenta 6 in Cassel, Germany, where she presents a great set of works on paper. In 1982, she is selected together with Jörg Madlener to represent Belgium at the Venice Biennale. This is the opportunity for a new “journey”: colour will come back in a series of oblong canvasses covered in a succession of red layers, now a part of the Musée National d’Art Moderne-Centre Pompidou’s collection.

Through the decade, Marthe Wéry will multiply experimentations on the canvas’s multiple components (frame, medium, form, colour) in huge series that are as many “journeys” which playfully fit in the architectures that host them, namely at Sao Paolo’s Biennale and Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary arts. In the mid-90s, she sets off on a new “journey”: she creates individual paintings again, autonomous pieces of work that are no longer parts of series. She therefore develops new painting techniques: colour is poured down on a canvas, flows according to the frame’s position and is directed by a fan that accelerates drying in the process. An incredible game of textures and nuances takes shape on the surface. Marthe passes away abruptly in 2005, several new projects in the making.

Our exhibition, exclusively built on about a hundred pieces of work from her workshop and the family collection, is a pathway through all those “journeys”, as many milestones that punctuate this major artist’s work. It focuses on older, rarely displayed pieces as well as on more recent work, huge series or more intimate paintings, here shown in accordance with the gallery’s exceptional architecture.

Espace Grande-Nef