Showing is a political act in the sense that it addresses man and the city. It was thus necessary to find the optimal space to pose this act. To think an art gallery is as much to pose a reflection on the architectural aspect that on the respect of the work. This last point is essential and thus required a consultation with the main actors, the artists, who will be the future inhabitants of this space. The chosen site is a vast house built for a medical doctor in 1911. The last occupants of the building were the Laboratoires Saint-Bernard, specialized in medical analysis.
The question naturally arises as how to open a new location? This question is crucial and it is essential to talk about it with the artists themselves in order to build together the beginning of this new adventure. Anxious to respect the history of the house, seven artists reflected on this past. All of them of different nationalities, they intervene in situ for the opening of the gallery. They open it in the sense as a "spiritual father" opens your eyes. They reveal the space. The interventions in situ allow to question the visitors by submitting them reflections of contemporary artists in a space before it is renovated. They thus have the possibility of discovering the works in a space close to the original configuration. Finally, and most importantly, commissioning works in situ allows us to send a message to the artists themselves by giving them total freedom.
These artists were thus invited to give shape to the house. Nothing was imposed on them. Without giving any instructions, it appeared that a unifying theme united the works; that of the absence, from where the the Latin title of the exhibition (ABSENS). In different ways, all these artists have produced a work where this state was revealed in an obvious way.
Absence is not a simple nothingness of being: it can paradoxically underline a presence, whether dramatic (as in the work of Claudio Parmiggiani for example) or illusionist (Sarah Bostwick), it can take the form of disappearance or invisibility (Ignasi Aballí, Seamus Farrell, Georges Rousse, Fabrice Samyn) or of the symbol (Hreinn Fridfinnsson). More simply, one could also see in the title ABSENS a literal interpretation. The gallery is not yet at its ultimate stage; there is a transformation to come and therefore we are in front of an "absent place", which does not yet exist in its final form.
Opening up the space by having the house itself at the center was one of the major concerns of Meessen De Clercq. To apprehend the house as the place of the intimate being, "as an instrument of analysis for the human soul" (Gaston Bachelard, Poétique de l'Espace). By play of ricochets or mirrors, the proposals of the seven artists reflect in some way the personality of the gallery owners. A fruitful dialogue has allowed the realization of strong works that illustrate their will to understand the past in order to live in the present and conceive the future. The artists have been chosen in a precise way and have, in great majority, an international visibility.