Timothy Segers

° 1983

Works in Antwerp (BE), lives in Antwerp (BE), born in Antwerp (BE).

Children of the Turko-Tatar populations of Central Asia are told a myth about where the stars come from: they are told that birds punctured the tent of the dark night sky, making ragged holes through which the light flickers in. It is a tale in which darkness is merely a barrier to the light that lies beyond it.

Looking at Timothy Segers’s black Utop shapes, titled in homage to Malevich, one might attempt to say that they are the negatives of those randomly formed holes made by swooping birds breaking through a material as intangible and dark as the cloak of the night. But they are not that easy to name or pin down. These objects are solid, smooth and emphatically present. They seem to willfully affect our vision, like magnets repelling magnets, and yet, in terms of meaning, they are unrelentingly open. They seem to stem from almost the opposite of representational drawing, and any words to describe them – ‘shards of flattened mass?’ – barely find a foothold.

The objects Timothy Segers makes stem from light, unmediated, improvisational gestures, realized in the moment. He devises them without knowing their ultimate destination, as indeterminate objects that can be positioned by others: the curator, the collector and, ultimately, the viewer. Segers makes a quick drawing on his iPad, which he distorts using vectoring programs, then produces them enlarged in powder-coated steel pieces that are hung on the wall with magnets. His interest lies in the work’s eventual encounter with a situation – the setting of the piece, the public showing of it and the people who witness it.

In effect, Timothy Segers’s wall pieces materialize as graphical flat forms that transcend their own spatiality. With an emphatic blackness, the artist creates a visual oscillation between surface and the illusion of depth: a trompe l’oeil. These works create space, and at the same time they are bi-dimensional. Their pictorial qualities paradoxically create an effect of absence rather than presence, since their dark appearance hints at space that is hard to discern. The perspective in these objects is tampered with in the initial distortion of the freehand, vectored drawing that has been stretched, twisted or thwarted. Timothy Segers (1983–) Surface is made explicit through the intense, visual impact of the object’s pigmentation. The pristine, flatsurface is velveteen.

In his own words, Segers speaks of ‘pushing the conformity of the artwork by obscuring its intentionality’. This work is therefore about masking – from a wish to keep it untainted by attributions of fixed meaning – which, as in the work of Luc Tuymans, has the potential to become its own kind of revelation.

We, the viewers, who are trying to make sense of this, are faced with a blank page or, more in keeping with its essence, a black hole: a gap in meaning, that can only be bridged tenuously with art historical associations; there is a sense of line and of (warped) perspective. There are also the optical phenomena that reside in the physical aspects of the work. There is the fact that the works are made to be put in the space by other people, a kind of sharing by the artist that turns the work on its head: it becomes a negotiation. The artist himself describes this as an interference, which suggests he willfully includes this collaborative step in order to distort his original intention. Rational prediction or control is, as it were, launched on wheels that swivel. The creative act is propelled but not yet finished in the work when it leaves the artist’s studio. In a discussion on abstraction, this body of work shimmies up to and – in an instant – swipes the tablecloth off the table, receding out of reach of the modernist narratives associated with non-representation.

Through his work, Segers aims at connecting with every person in a fundamental way regarding space, form and equilibrium, to eventually form a scenography of an openly false pictorial debate. False, because this discussion is not completely pictorial. His metal ‘drawings’ are as tangible as they are abstract. But in essence, they are optical holes in space that become surfaces of black emptiness. It is as if Timothy Segers evades clear meaning in order to provoke a pureness of thought.

Text by: Bruno Leitão and Kate Christina Mayne, 2015

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