Monthly Archives: November 2013

On René Daniels by Bart Cassiman

Daniels must have become more and more aware of [the bow-tie meaning-complex] with time since this motif, at first sight unaltered, remains a visual constant for three years. The evolution of this form and the surprising, not really gradual, increase in the layers of meaning show clearly that he did not begin with the idea of making a series. It arose, not from a preconceived concept or plan, but as a result (a posteriori) of his visual manner of thinking (in word and language). In time the series thus clearly acquired a conceptual character. As the so-called “bow-tie” appears in so many different forms and contexts, a “series” is created with extremely complex layers of meaning, and all kinds of relations between the paintings emerge. Because of these interrelations it is even possible for new paintings to elucidate certain meanings or contents in earlier ones, and changing meanings can be determined. This broadening and changing of meaning is, however, only possible because the artist shows such conceptual suppleness.
p. 23

What is depicted can be described as a tree with a schematic branch structure. However, in closer examination the blossoms turn out to be the titles of earlier paintings by Daniels. Not only do these titles make it possible to interpret the painting as an exhibition plan, but it is indeed an exhibition plan. Instead of branches of a tree, the brown lines are now a wall construction seen from above.
p. 25

The final artistic result is a very complex and individual visual ideolect which, as a result of the associative process, is completely separated from the autonomous nature of perception. In addition, Daniels has considerable ability to take certain things from their usual context and place them in another. This context contamination is a result of the sudden discovery and instant insight that the same things (…) can fit or be placed in different contexts. So in this way there exists a complex link, subject to interchanges and shifts, between quasi-identical representations on the one hand and the ultimate content and meaning in the other.
This permanent free association or, if you like, amused dealing with reality, is, however, based on so many different aspects at once that it is impossible to reduce it to a single conclusive explanatory mechanism. This presumes a constant mental alertness for situational and even accidental phenomena, events and remarks which cannot possibly all be reconstructed in an attempt at an overall interpretation. This is because the situational circumstances which act as stimuli in Daniels’ associative and reflexive seeing and thinking can never be completely reconstructed.

Bart Cassiman,
Alzumeazume or La Muse Amusée,
Kunst & Museumjournaal, number 5, 1990