Closer: a solo exhibition by Xavier Verhoest
Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, 13 October to 22 November 2021
Xavier Verhoest’s images locate the viewer in an in-between world where movement through space and time is, all at once, suspended and accelerated. The natural world, and landscapes are often the starting point for an exploration of remembrance and oblivion, in which Verhoest takes the viewer to and beyond places that have been important to him in his life. During his lifetime Verhoest has travelled through many places where the effects of human conflict are laid bare and these have left an indelible impression on him. In his work, Verhoest attempts to escape into an inner world, a space where time slows and he has room to reflect on his own lived experiences, and those of the people he’s encountered
“In art, there are many moments in between doubt and certainty, completeness and incompleteness, between beauty and ugliness, between the past and the future. Placing one foot after the other, learning to stand, finding inner balance, making sense of disappearances, of ghosts, of lost hearts, as they’ve all gone and I stayed; that takes me to memories of places and encounters. It makes me free. There’s no paradise here.”
Most of Xavier’s works are photo-based. He begins by transferring an image onto a support, usually paper or vinyl. He then initiates a process alternating between adding and subtracting, working the surface of the images with various media – acrylic and oil paints, pastels, charcoal, ashes – until something emerges and comes to life. The work is always intuitive; a slow process that requires patience, in which time is a collaborator. The results are a form of experience, a sensibility deposited in the layers that construct the image, conveying sensations. These are images in formation, equally fluid and solid, strong and yet fragile.
Xavier Verhoest (b. 1964) is a visual artist who has lived and works in Nairobi since 2001. Xavier also works as an art curator and is the co-founder of Art2be, a collective of artists, psychologists, activists and researchers which aims to bring positive living and social change using artistic methodologies (drawing, painting, body mapping, photography, voice, films and books). Born in DR Congo, Xavier Verhoest studied film editing in Belgium. In 1992, he joined Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) as a volunteer and worked until 2003 in Palestine, Kenya, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda. He exhibits regularly in Nairobi, and has also shown his work in Ethiopia, Belgium, and France.