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Crossing the Circle – Philippe Vandenberg


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Crossing the Circle
Works on Paper by Philippe Vandenberg

Publication launch 17 October 2016. Available for pre-order

This catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition Crossing the Circle, 21 September – 13 November 2016 at Drawing Room.

Considered one of the leading painters in Belgian in the 1980s and 90s, Philippe Vandenberg was an accomplished and prolific draughtsman, filling hundreds of sketchbooks with drawings in pencil, ink, gouache and richly coloured watercolour.  Philippe Vandenberg was born in Ghent in 1952 and died there in 2009.

In many of his drawings the technique is loose yet highly controlled in styles that vary from lyrical, cartoon-like heads and figures to watercolour and pencil line abstractions.   His use of recurring motifs of the cross and the circle appear throughout his figurative and abstract works; the cross as crucifixion, the sarcophagus, the circle as a place of refuge, a void, a halo or a crown of thorns. In the more abstract works the pages are filled with repetitive geometric shapes of the cross and circle; the circle as labyrinth, as wheel, as hell, eternity, the circle and the cross combined in a threefold cruciform associated with Christian or pagan iconography; the cross turns swastika – both a reminder of the political fragility of the world, and a recuperation of its original Sanskrit meaning as a sign of peace. 

Vandenberg speaks of the act of destruction as being creation – much of his imagery plays on the contradiction of good and evil – the human is portrayed both as perpetrator and victim, which for him stood as a metaphor for the failure and the futility of the artist himself.  Vandenberg was compelled to explore through his work unknown territories and to meet the darkest side of humanity. 

The publication includes an essay by Jo Applin, writer and lecturer in Contemporary Art at Courtauld Institute and a foreword by Mary Doyle co-director, Drawing Room.

​Published by Mer Paper Kunsthalle Ghent, 2016 and the Estate Philippe Vandenberg

Jo Applin, Mary Doyle (foreword)

Soft linen cover

135 pages full colour.


Special Exhibition Price  –  £28.50

Publication launch 17 October 2016. Available for pre-order

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