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Tekst van Rik Sauwen

Tekst van Theo De Wilde

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The art of Simonne De Visscher grows out of a sincere and unconditional love of nature. The starting point was the splendid holidays on her grandparents’ farm in her youth, which she idealised (rightly so) in her ‘affective memory’ – after Marcel Proust. It is not surprising that she opts for an attentive – even meticulous – figurative style to evoke the deep pleasure her natural surroundings give her. Typically, her formal approach ranges from what might be called an impressionist style to one that is almost photo-realist – or even surreal. All these terms are accurate, but they miss the mark: the real issue lies elsewhere. Simonne De Visscher is not an adept of a particular style or technique. Her work is measured by her sincerity – whether towards her subject matter, nature (in which, sine qua non, she finds her primary models), or towards her past and present sensations, that is memory (which she does not name). The representation is less a literal copy of a landscape or a segment of a landscape than the evocation of an entire ambience that is not merely visual, but also olfactory, auditory, tactile and even emotive. Simonne De Visscher is a plein-air painter in the strict sense of the term, which places her in the great tradition of painters who reject atelier painting and instead set up their easel in open air, facing wind and storms – as at Barbizon, Sint-Martens-Latem or, generally, on the beaches of the North Sea. She assumed this vocation fully from 1980 onwards, and dismisses Simonne, who loves detail, can surrender to her heart’s content to the world of stone. To her amazement – and with great joy – she realised that detail is not an end point, but the starting point of new discoveries. The texture of minerals invites us to lose ourselves. To evoke this, she deploys a different style, a more polished way of painting, accumulating fine layers of paint in order to obtain greater translucence. However, her approach is fundamentally unchanged. The practice of depicting textures in a surprising perspective aims at interpreting the fundamental principle of minerals rather than portraying a specific stone, beautiful though it may be. Simonne’s intention is to take the detail as a starting point of a new discovery, a new canvas, free to display side by side these details and the details of the details. Abstraction isn’t far off. But that is not the ambition of Simonne De Visscher, for whom the heart will always win over the intellect.

                                                                   Rik  Sauwen