World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 338 - Alexander Schabracq

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 338 - Alexander Schabracq

In Gallery VIVID in Rotterdam I saw an exhibition with work by Alexander Schabracq. It looked colorful and imaginative with a series of drawings on the wall with wavy shapes on the left, two large paintings on the right, one, 'The Formation of Planet Earth' with an iron front piece with wavy and rectangular lines. And in the middle space on various pedestals one imaginative work next to the other.

Among other things, a terracotta bust of the artist in a cube. More on that in a moment.

A week later, Alexander Schabracq tells in the gallery about his works and the ideas from which they originated.

Feeling for the material

For him it is about the perception of the world surrounding him, the spatiality, and an attempt to get a grip on it, he says. Schabracq: “A space is, for example, the landscape. We don't see what's behind it. That's where the moment of imagination begins, so I try to imagine what I don't see. I try to frame what I observe in a list or by means of perspective lines.”

The world is viewed from the point of view of the individual, it is a personal interpretation. This interpretation is three-dimensional, both in his sculptures and in his paintings. An important element in his work is craftsmanship. Schabracq has a feel for the material: paint, glass, iron, terracotta, but also wood and plastics, and that has only strengthened over time.

Thinking with your hands

Schabracq: “I can make anything I think of. I am essentially interested in the materials themselves and in the symbolism of materials. Craft is essentially a consciousness and maybe even a belief. I grew up with it and developed it. It has brought me dexterity and tactility but also ideas. Bending iron is also not only a matter of experience, but is also a feeling. It's 'thinking with your hands'."

Not only craftsmanship and imagination are important, you also have to communicate it well. Art is in fact a form of communication. “The artist tells a story through his images, has a message, makes a warning, announces an idea, conveys a feeling. That has to take shape. The form is decisive for conveying the idea, story, feeling. That shape has to be strong. Skills / ignorance can make or break the design of an idea or concept.”

Schabracq: “I try to look beyond the horizon, then you look into space, into the universe, just like the Greeks and Romans did. You can't see it, it comes down to your imagination. You design a personal myth. Then things come up like, 'Why are we here?' 'Who am I?' 'Is there a God?'”

The origin of the earth

Does Alexander have a key work? He certainly has, even several. “Every now and then you make key works. You pick up new things. ‘The Formation of Planet Earth’ is certainly a key work.” We walk to work. The painting suggests space. “Lucio Fontana also tried to get spatiality in his work. The well-known ‘concetto spaziale’ is about that 3D space. Therefore, to emphasize the space, he cut into the canvas. Instead, I placed a trellis in front of the painting. You look through the fence into the imagined space.”

According to the theory, the earth was created 4.56 billion years ago, along with the other planets in our solar system, by a big bang from our sun. The start date can be seen at the bottom right of the painting. We see the fire of the early period, the magma, the seas. “We humans are the result of that. And also Allah and God, projections of man. In the Middle Ages, some thought that the Earth was a saucer in the middle of the universe. This geocentric idea was very plausible at the time… but perhaps it still is as we still haven't discovered sentient life elsewhere…”

A half-full cup of water and a glass ball are attached to the railing. A pink feather is blowing. "That cup of water is there to help the viewer to grasp the enormity of this event, in the glass ball we may be able to see the future of our planet and the pink feather is there to put things into perspective."


A second key work / key moment arose when Schabracq had designed a fence in Italy twenty years ago with a play of lines. Under the name 'Tavola Quattro Design', in addition to his work as a visual artist, he runs a traditional forge with an open forge fire and 50 kg pneumatic blacksmith's hammer.

A passer-by commented: "That fence takes away the view of the landscape." Schabracq answered the man that that work gave perspective to the landscape. Aad Krol of Galerie VIVID suggested to him to do more with the fencing and to make sculptures of it. That was an incentive that led to results.

Iron and glass

A third key moment is the combination of iron and glass. “I had already worked with glass in the 1980s and early 1990s. I found many existing glass shapes and I made a lamp out of them, for example. I also started blowing glass and making mirrors with silver nitrate. I picked up that glass blowing again in combination with steel with which I play a line pattern. Glass and iron: they are two contrasting elements, one translucent, the other hard and rusty. That's a nice contrast. And they both soften with heat.”

I am baked earth

And then we also have the terracotta. He uses this to create figurative images such as a self-portrait in a metal cube and a horn in front of his mouth that stands in the middle of the exhibition. 'Ego Sum Frixum Terrae', it says, Latin for: 'I am baked earth'. “Terracotta has a great history, in the 16th / 17th century many portraits were made in terracotta. Terra cotta literally means baked earth, and we humans come from that earth. If there is a higher power, it is Mother Earth. Everything we see and experience is the result of the earth. The astronaut who first photographed the Earth from the outside was a product of Mother Earth. You can say 'earth took a selfie through the astronaut'."

40 years an artist

Alexander Schabracq graduated from the Rietveld Academy in 1980-81. He has been an artist for 40 years. What is his experience of art life? “It's a life I've chosen. I went into it with a lot of energy. It has unfurled with peaks and troughs. I can't get rid of it now. I'm 64 now so I'll keep going until I drop. Art life is wonderfully beautiful and stimulating, although there is also a lot of blah blah blah and nonsense. I rebel against certain parts of conceptual art. In essence everyone has ideas, but to communicate them as a concept they require clear good form. For example, Tino Sehgal with his choreographies in the Stedelijk Museum, which as far as I'm concerned is a theater form and not visual art and therefore does not belong there in the SM. But in the end, there are plenty of examples of good art. The optimistic and hopeful thought is that all stupid art will be filtered out by the machinations of time or else it will be put in its proper place.”


1) Composition 4,  2 -3) sculptures Alexander Schabracq, 4) Anima, 5) ego sum frixum terrae, 6) il protagonista, 7) the formation of planet EARTH, 8) the world as a surreal landscape, 9) the world is a potatoe, 10) Gallery VIVID - Alexander Schabracq



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