• Cedric Vanderlinden

    Cedric Vanderlinden
    • Artist Statement
      • There are moments of deep silence and isolation where one encounters the Cosmos. Coming face to face with the absurdity and in-consequence of existence is an unsettling, humbling experience. The encounter is so traumatic that we do everything to shut it out: Consumption, Facebook, religion, drugs … Civilization is nothing more than a quest to quieten the voice of deep silence.

        I believe that art strips distraction, and force those Sublime encounters. It is difficult. It cannot be rushed. It demands its pound of flesh. An encounter with art is daunting: it is the opposite of a diversion.

        But these encounters are not accidental. They are considered. That is the skill of the artist. It cannot be arrived at with shock, or with conceptual verbiage. The artist bears witness to an encounter that cannot be reproduced, and that exists in the width of a pencil mark.

        And I also believe that the Romantics had it right: nature is the strong vehicle for the Sublime. Nature is the first work of art. Encounters with it can be transformative and immersive. But, through two centuries of production and consumption, we’ve found ways to shut it out, to keep it ‘outside’.

        ‘Fortunately’, and with substantially irony, our drive to distract has fed an increasingly temperamental environment. Our end is looming and there is no political will left to save us. Our time is past: global environmental disaster is here and it will not be ignored.
    • Biography
      • M.Tech Fine Art (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)

        I always have been deeply interested in the visual arts. Painting and drawing, specifically, have always held a special fascination. Growing up in Brussels, field and family trips to the museums and galleries were regular and a special treat.

        After a rather traumatic migration to South Africa, I pursued this interest and studied at the Port Elizabeth Technikon (now part of the NMMU). There, I discovered a passion for history and theory, as well as deep love of teaching. The few years I spent lecturing, researching, and working, were some of the best of my life. Over the years, I have successfully completed an N.Dip: Fine Arts, BTech: Painting, and MTech: Painting.

        Thereafter, finding little opportunity in the Eastern Cape and Port Elizabeth for my work, and unable to find channels to exhibit elsewhere, I got involved in, and helped start, a software development company as well as other numerous projects. Entrepreneurship is in my blood.I still continued to paint, draw, exhibit, and teach (mostly life-drawing), as well as read, visit museums and galleries. I regularly travel back to Brussels, and Europe, which affords me a broader, more cosmopolitan, view of the arts.

        About 3 years ago, I combined by love of the visual arts and my enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and opened Port Elizabeth’s first dedicated contemporary art space, Underculture Contemporary, whose mission it is to offer a platform for emergent contemporary artists from the Eastern Cape.

        Selected Exhibitions:

        Landscapes of Consequence (Solo), Grahamstown National Arts Festival
        Masters Final Exhibition, The Athenaeum, Port Elizabeth
        Two Man Show, ArtEc
        PE Academy of Arts Showcase, Grahamstown National Arts Festival
        Group Exhibition, Ruwach Art Gallery
        Tuesday Guild, Robyn Fuller Gallery
        Tuesday Guild, Robyn Fuller Gallery
        Grahamstown National Arts Festival
        Tuesday Guild, Robyn Fuller Gallery
        Tuesday Guild, Robyn Fuller Gallery
        Group Exhibition, Grahamstown National Arts Festival
        Tuesday Guild, Creative Design Gallery
        Artist in Residence, Knysna Arts Festival
        Group Exhibition, Grahamstown National Arts Festival
    • Interview
      • Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
        I draw a vast amount of my inspiration (if not all of it) from scientific and mathematical advances. Right now, the discoveries in terms of our place in the cosmos are the most important and bleakest to date. And yet, this leads to wonder and curiosity. I use that as the core of the animus of my work.

        Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
        There is a local (Port Elizabeth) printmaker by the name of Ethna Frankenfeld, who passed away this year. Not only was she my mentor and teacher, but she has a facility with line and an unflinching commitment to quality. I believe that, over time, her work will be appreciated more and more.

        Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
        I thoroughly enjoy the work of Rene Magritte. He is often overshadowed by Dali and others, but he is, to my mind, one of the strongest, if not THE strongest surrealist. The exhibition, especially of his notebooks, showed that art must be an intellectual pursuit, that a purely emotional output is worthless without a keen, sharp, intellect guiding it.

        Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
        I am mostly inspired by negative sentiments such as loss, isolation and existential angst, which I use as springboards into a Sublime or Abject result. Often this arises in response to scientific advances, and contemplations on the nature of the universe. From this, I rigorously apply an intellectual and rational structure to get the work to emerge.

        Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
        Not really. I conceptualize the works in sketch forms and then take it into the studio. I am a reflexive artist so I respond to what the work throws back.

        What do you like most about being an artist?

        I enjoy being able to solve problems. Contrary to what popular will show, artistic creation is an immensely intellectual and reasoned problem-solving exercise. How does one get to translate a non-verbal insight into the human condition into an image? This is not a problem with an easy solution.

        How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?
        To date, I have never encountered ‘artist’s block’. In fact, I have the opposite: I don’t have enough time to tackle all the ideas that I have. Further to that, I was always taught in Art School that there is no such thing as a block, an artist must draw, and draw, and draw.
        What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
        I am, to date, most proud of my Masters exhibition. Returning to University after 15 years was quite a daunting challenge but I am very glad to have faced it and conquered it. The body of work represents that victory.

        Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?
        The visual arts and artists of the Eastern Cape have, for far too long, being treated dismissively, as though only the larger centers (Cape Town, Johannesburg) had, somehow, dominion over the arts. Time and again, though, artists from the Eastern Cape, especially young, dynamic, emerging contemporary artists, prove themselves as competent, talented, and competitive. It is my mission to make this undiscovered gem known to the world. Similarly, contemporary fine arts from Africa are viewed by the first world as second rate, as though, somehow, Africa is only able to produce tribal masks and paintings of leopards. The Internet and globalization has allowed Africa to be more visible, and vocal. There is art of beauty, power, and value, and we must all be involved in getting the word out.

        What are your plans for the coming year?

        I am working on a new body of work which I intend to exhibit across several cities. I am currently trying to find an ‘in’ into my home city of Brussels.