In her practice, the painter Sarah Smolders reflects on site and site-specificity. In the series The Language of Buildings she uses painterly interventions to set up a dialogue with the space in which she exhibits. For Netwerk Aalst, she makes new work for the studio space.
Precise reproductions or impressions of architectural elements – among which more tactile spatial qualities such as light, matter or volume – reappear as painting in the space to which they refer. This urges the spectator to slow down and rediscover the space; to move in it or look at it differently. Subtle variations in form and colour instigate a kind of encoding; a primary version of language. It almost seems as if Sarah Smolders gives the space itself a voice.
There is a certain slowness to this process of reproduction, repetition and variation. Smolders’ practice offers indeed as much a reflection on space as on time and material. Despite the invisibility it acts out, the work is the result of months of vigorous labour. The time to paint layer on layer, to duplicate the perfect image, to touch it again, to let it rest. The time to look at a place that is hard to get. The time we need to really understand something. A generous space for being and looking.
The realization of this artwork was made possible with the support of HISK. All pictures © Greg Smolders