Swimmingpool I–III, a suite of three reduction woodcuts, is emblematic of the recent work of Goedele Peeters, a Belgian artist whose primary medium is printmaking. The suite is comprised of three different views in different light and from varying angles. The scale envelops but does not overwhelm. The setting is nonspecific—someplace with clear skies, hot sun and well-groomed concrete. (In fact, it is a villa in Libya, but the artist says the exact location is “unimportant.”) Bereft of human figures, the architecture serves as a vehicle for exploring light, color and shadow. The subject is represented in its essence, albeit with strategic details—a wall of ivy, wooden planks, a utility pipe. These guide the eye through the composition but do not lend geographic specificity. The overall tone is meditative.
Peeters’ sophisticated understanding of her materials can be seen in the way the Japanese paper enhances the inherent warmth of the wood, generating light effects so striking they draw the viewer from across the room. Wide swaths of paper are left unadorned; properly lit, they appear as inviting and brilliant as sunlight itself. Her flawless expanses of ink in muted yet resonant colors reminiscent of Richard Diebenkorn are thin enough to allow the texture of the woodgrain to show through. Here, this lends a dappled quality to the water, walls, shadows and foliage.
In a recent monograph on Peeters, poet and artist Johan van Cauwenberge astutely connects her concerns with those of Hopper: “She draws our attention to the subject itself in its isolated longeur, simultaneously creating a sense of loneliness, abandonment.”1 This latent anxiety, enhanced by a lack of reference to place, is what allows Peeters’ art to reach beyond its ostensible subject and tap into the collective disquiet.
- Goedele Peeters and Johan van Cauwenberge, De stille Wereld van Goedele Peeters/The Silent World of Goedele Peeters/Le monde silencieux de Goedele Peeters (Bruges: Galerie Pinsart, 2012), 58.