New Masters:
Evelyn Vanoverbeke

Let’s set the scene: a sunny morning in Ghent, three girls venturing out to explore ‘De Pantoloog’ by Patrick Van Caeckenbergh at MSK Gent. But first, coffee. Over a ristretto and a cappuccino, we start a conversation about where Evelyn Van Overbeke’s at, where she’s been, and where she’s going. Taking pictures in between sips, our photographer Tiny captures Evelyn’s calm and collected gaze. A sharp contrast with the extravagant and fantastical artworks we’re about to discover.

Interview by Noor Al-Bender
Photos by Tiny Geeroms, shot at MSK Gent


I’ve always wanted to find the boundary between painting and sculpture

How would you describe your own work?
I can’t park my work in one certain discipline. Many people see me as a painter since I studied painting. But I’ve always wanted to find the boundary between painting and sculpture, and I think that’s reflected in my work. You can say that my background has sprouted in painting, but later on in my studies I started to approach the sculptural aspects, which led me to the question of how I can transform a sculpture into a painting and vice versa. Sometimes I don’t quite know what to call my work, whether it’s an object or a sculpture or a painting. My paintings are works that I hang on a wall, but I’ve always found it interesting to see how a painting would look in a space without doing that. I want to search for another way of showing a painting than the ways that already exist. I don’t necessarily want to say that my work is new – I think that’s very hard to do these days. So then I started working with wax and creating monochromes that can be placed on a tripod in a space. In a certain sense I can also call that a painting, but classically it’s a sculpture.

How do you feel walking around in a museum?
Small [laughs]. Certainly in MSK, I have a very big admiration for all the works displayed here.

Where do you find your inspiration?
I mostly work with recycled materials, which I can find a lot more of in Brussels than in Ghent. That’s part of the reason I moved to Brussels. The environment there is more alive and has more of a story and a history. I think a lot of artists find their inspiration in their environment, like I do. It often relies on coincidence, but I like to find materials first and then see what can happen. By moving things around in my work space, situations can arise from objects that come together coincidentally, created from a certain nonchalance.

I like it when the material already has a certain personality or identity

Is that how your creative process works?
Yes, pretty much. The recycled material I collect has a story. I like it when the material already has a certain personality or identity. It makes it easier for me to work with.

What are your favourite works from ‘De Pantoloog’?
‘Het Sigarenkistje’. It’s a piece that belongs to a bigger fantasy. I personally don’t find a big match with Patrick Van Caeckenbergh’s works: the atmosphere of my works is entirely different. But I find it very interesting to observe.

My works are more spatial and abstract

Can you find a certain link between your work and ‘Het Sigarenkistje’?
The collecting part [laughs]. I have a work space in my house, which makes the environment of domestic objects more sculptural. Because of this I make more compositions, like a still life when setting the table for example. That’s how I started thinking about the functional object and the sculpture, moving very close to each other sometimes. But I think this piece has a very different meaning. My works are more spatial and abstract, yet also belong to a certain fantasy.

What are you currently working on?
Since moving to Brussels, I let go of painting for a while and I started focusing on recycled material that I started to see as a painting/sculpture. By studying the materials I’ve come to other things I’m working on right now. I’m exploring a new take on the functionality of certain objects, how you can take the functionality out of an object and how you can assign functionality to one. I’ve started painting again, but not in the classical way. The sculptural outlook always comes back; that spatial aspect is very interesting to me.
I had an exhibition in Heist-op-den-Berg that ended not too long ago. And a couple of weeks ago some artists organised a last-minute exhibition in Ghent, which I also made a piece for.

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