DE. FI. CIEN. CY – artists’ and curator’s bios


Rene Daniels, born in 1950, is a Dutch artist who started his career in the 1980s in the broader context of the international “return to painting”. While his initial works were loosely painted and had a narrative and anecdotal inclination, he changed his approach in 1984 and developed in a more subdued painterly manner the shape of an abstracted exhibition room with proxy paintings on display. This shape became the basic figure of his works for the next two or three years. It underwent repeated mutations and became part of different constellations until it finally turned into a disposable element of the non-referential construction of a pictorial context.

Using and reconfiguring the image of the exhibition room, Daniels’ paintings reflected the situation of a painting exhibition: he depicted paintings lacking an image, a mere decoration of the gallery space. Thus he ultimately depicted his own painting as empty shapes, a void in the museum. A picture was implemented to manifest the lack of substantial imagery and thereby the fetish character of painting – a reflection of 1960s institutional critique within the framework of the 1980s “return to painting”.

The reduction of the picture to an empty form was for Daniels the condition for producing an expanded sequence of paintings unbounded by referential premises. The shape that came to be named the “bow tie” had turned into a mark that could be freely multiplied and used to occupy the entire picture plane. In works from 1987 called Kades-Kaden or Lentebloesem [Spring Blossom], Daniels replaced the empty shapes of paintings in an exhibition room by their written titles or he named places where certain actions were possible.

In 1987 Daniels suffered a severe stroke and came back to painting only around 2005. He took up where he had left off fifteen years before, revisiting and reconfiguring his work prior to the stroke.


Ulrich Loock is the curator of DE. FI. CIEN. CY. Born in 1953 in Braunschweig, Germany, Loock was from 1985 to 2010 consecutively the director of the Kunsthalle Bern, of the Kunstmuseum Luzern, both in Switzerland, and the deputy director of the Museu de Serralves in Porto, Portugal. In those functions he organized several exhibitions featuring works by Rene Daniels and Luc Tuymans in solo and group shows. In 2012 and 2013 he participated in international seminars at the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art devoted to the work of Andrzej Wroblewski. Currently Loock lives as a freelance art critic and curator in Berlin and teaches at the University of the Arts in Bern. DE. FI. CIEN. CY was first presented at Art Stations Gallery, Stary Browar, Poznan, Poland, 28 November 2014 to 28 February 2015.


Luc Tuymans was born in 1958 and grew up in Antwerp where he still lives. The first paintings that he acknowledges are from 1975, before he started art school in 1976. His early work is informed by a rift traversing his own family, one part of which collaborated with the German occupation while the other part resisted. Pictures have referred to places of Nazi atrocities and evoked their reign of terror, but also exposed more generic scenes of rootlessness and loss. In later series of works, Tuymans addressed different ideological systems such as colonialism, nationalism or religious belief, but also the empty places of the missing picture.

For a long time Tuymans covered the picture plane in a hesitant, testing way with short brushstrokes – comparable to a man walking on thin ice. This seemingly amateurish way of painting claims a profound lack of mastery. In some of his earlier works such as Gas Chamber, Our New Quarters or Schwarzheide, it is obvious that the painting’s lack of mastery transmits the mandatory failure of the picture in the face of its subject. The presented picture states painting’s incapacity to depict. Tuymans has addressed this condition by coining the term “authentic forgery”: every one of his paintings is a forgery insofar it doesn't create an original and appropriate rendering of its subject but rather the rendering of a preexisting image (or the absence of an image) that blocks access to what is to be revealed.


Andrzej Wroblewski is widely considered the most important Polish artist of the post-war period. He was born in 1927 and started to make independent work in 1948 while still an art student. Ideologically he leaned towards a socialist agenda and refuted contemporary movements in Poland devoted to international modernism. His signature works from that time are a number of paintings evoking an execution that are based on his wartime experiences. In 1950 Wroblewski gave up his previous way of painting and accepted the exigencies of Socialist Realism. After Stalin’s death and in the context of the “thaw” in Poland, deeply disappointed by the apparent failure of the communist model, he abandoned the Socialist-Realist doctrine in 1955 and reconnected to his 1948/49 work.

In his Execution pictures Wroblewski assumed the position of the “powerless witness” who exposed himself as being guilty of neither preventing the destruction of human life nor giving appropriate testimony of this destruction. This position was expressed through a generic figure type, wrongly assembled bodies, and heads and feet that were cropped off by the edges of the painting. Between 1955 and 1957 he depicted a bus or tram driver directing his vehicle towards a nondescript landscape ahead, a segmented or flayed body, portraits carrying disquieting touches of colour, or a featureless person traversed by slits that are sometimes identified as wounds. In these pictures, Wroblewski turned lines and edges that had been severed bodies in his earlier paintings, into cuts and lesions slicing up the picture plane itself and thereby negating the very possibility of depiction.


IMAGE: Andrzej Wroblewski, Abstract Composition no. 47, not dated. Watercolour, gouache, paper, 16.5 x 22.7 cm. Private Collection. Image courtesy of Andrzej Wroblewski Foundation