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‘...There is something decidedly aberrant about Michael Van den Abeele’s creative process. When he first started making video’s, years ago, he created his simple but wildly idiosyncratic visual animations of Marlboro cigarette packages or pin-up girls by using Word, the Microsoft computer program most people in the world use to make text documents, not video’s. In other words, he took one method of processing and ordering information, a tool primarily for the production of the literary and the static, and used it instead for the creation of the visual and animated.
It should hardly come as a surprise, then, that when he recently started painting in earnest, he did so through an intricate process in which his paintings begin their life as carefully composed computer renditions, as screen-designed collages of colors and forms that sometimes take and repeat elements from his previous works. These are then copied from his computer-screen onto the canvas by hand. One might never guess this from the sumptuous, large-scale paintings that result from it: they are so painterly, so layered with his signature enigmatic forms, which sit between smoke and abstraction, so seemingly made from the spontaneity of a painter’s touch. And yet, everything about the aura of the medium and the singularity of the result is critically undercut by the artist because of the fact that they exist first in another, less material form: as an infinitely reproducible and yet tangible screen image, a mere collection of pixels, light and computer-codes. In short, this self-confessed copyist -for it must be said that repetition, reproduction, and the illusion of originality lies at the very heart of Van den Abeele’s practice -uses nearly everything that is particular to painting against itself.’
Elena Filipovic ('Un-Scene II', WIELS, 2012)