You use language in a sculptural way in your work. How did language sneak into your creations?
‘I had a teacher who used to play home- made ‘spoken word’ recordings during the model drawing lessons during my time at the Higher School of Art in Hasselt. I didn’t enjoy the traditional method of drawing, but subconsciously I started writing words and letters on my sketches. This fascination with words always remained. The whimsical shadow calligraphy which I have been folding out of aluminium or copper since the end of the nineteen eighties always makes me think of how words would come out of a larynx. This is roughly what the physical word vibrations look like in my imagination. Those vibrations are abstract, just like my curlicues are illegible too. They literally mean nothing if you can’t read.
Without a source of light or shadow, they can only refer to themselves, like any abstract piece of work. And not to anything else, outside of the work.’
You also experimented with language in sculptures made with textile, wood, glass and even food.
‘I created some three dimensional installations with double shadows at the end of the nineteen eighties. The words ‘God’ or ‘Ego’, ‘Icon’ or ‘Idea’ would appear as the lighting changed. I also experimented with coloured glass, which I painted with glass etching cream. This made certain zones within the glass take on a matt appearance. The words I painted would only become visible once a light was shone on them.’
Do you feel like a writer or a sculptor?
‘Language is the main constant element in my work. I also continuously write in notebooks or sketchbooks, which I always give an ‘arty’ name. I sometimes write down random thoughts, sometimes poetry and sometimes word games. I occasionally use some of these language experiments in a sculpture or installation at a later stage. Others just remain random thoughts which I don’t do anything else with. Other pages may become fully fledged drawings, whereby I combine language and images. Writing words down makes them tangible. Just like the shadows make my works of art legible.’