Writing Beyond at Axel Vervoordt Gallery

Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp

Sat 16 May 2020 to Sat 29 Aug 2020

Axel Vervoordt presents a new exhibition at Kanaal, titled “Writing Beyond”. On view are works by seventeen artists selected for how their work examines materiality and the exploration of intuition, energy, and consciousness. “The exhibition analyzes how artists give form to something that cannot be expressed by words alone,” says Axel. “Art is born when, at the moment of creation, the energy is stronger than the voluntary act of the artist and created in a moment of total freedom.”

Exhibition view – © Axel Vervoordt Gallery – Jan Liégeois


The exhibition is particularly prescient given today’s current global pandemic as lockdowns have resulted in moments of isolation, introspection, and questioning. These works express how art may propose solutions through self-actualisation and energetic expression.

The exhibition is installed in the spaces at Kanaal known as Henro and Ma-ka, which were designed by architect Tatsuro Miki and Axel Vervoordt according to principles of sacred geometry.

Exhibition view – © Axel Vervoordt Gallery – Jan Liégeois


The exhibition includes work by Ida Barbarigo, Raimund Girke, Sadaharu Horio, Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Masatoshi Masanobu, Henri Michaux, Yuko Nasaka, Hermann Nitsch, Roman Opalka, Niki de Saint Phalle, Park Seo-Bo, Dominique Stroobant, Kazuo Shiraga, Bosco Sodi, Antoni Tàpies, Günther Uecker, and Jef Verheyen. The exhibition also features a selection of objects, including a 19th-century Gongshi or ‘Dream Stone’, a 12th-century seated wooden Lohan, and a South-Australian Tjuringa.

Exhibition view – © Axel Vervoordt Gallery – Jan Liégeois


Exhibition Origins

It’s generally accepted that we refer to ‘history’, as the Greek ‘historia’, from the moment that written documentation is available. All events occurring before written records are considered ‘prehistory’, although it’s sometimes difficult to make strict distinctions between proto-writings and true writings. Sumerian cuneiform tablets and Egyptian hieroglyphs are considered to be the earliest forms of true writing systems in which linguistic expression is encoded so that readers may understand the content.

Exhibition view – © Axel Vervoordt Gallery – Jan Liégeois


Throughout history, every civilisation has developed its respective language and writing, which evolved from a pictorial writing system to a phonetical system with letters, words, or symbols, and the use of a large variety of complicated grammatical rules. Writing allows societies to transmit information and share knowledge. The greatest benefit of writing is that it provides the tool by which society can record information consistently and in greater detail, something that could not be achieved as well previously by spoken word.

Exhibition view – © Axel Vervoordt Gallery – Jan Liégeois


This exhibition explores how an artist’s specific visual language reflects their internal writing system—a sense of ‘automatic writing’—while at the same time going beyond writing. While curating the works selected for installation, Axel stated, “Artists have the unique ability to follow their intuitive feelings to express cosmic energy. They materialise what cannot be written. It goes beyond our understanding of writing.”