About jewels and paintings.’ A dual exhibition by Anne Zellien & Dirk Vander Eecken.

Anne Zellien and Dirk Vander Eecken first got to know each other in 1975, when they started their respective courses Jewellery Design and Printmaking at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. A year and a half ago they ran into each other again and they have been together since.

The idea for an unusual interdisciplinary dual exhibition, an encounter and dialogue between painting and jewellery, took shape during various discussions in COVID-19 times. Both artists have curious minds, are eager to respond to coincidence and take on challenges.

Anne finds inspiration in her surroundings; in literature, films, historic jewellery, conversations and people she meets. Everything that fascinates her in one way or another finds its way into her work. For this dual exhibition she is creating a new men’s collection, inspired by Dirk’s earlier graphic work and his current painterly colour palette.

Dirk’s recent work has its origins in a collaboration that took place between 2004 and 2008 with the research centre E.M.A.T. (Department of Physics, University of Antwerp) led by Prof. Staf Van Tendeloo. The research centre examines materials by using an electron microscope. Images derived from this are showing similarities with Dirk’s visual work. Thanks to this research, Dirk was in 2008 the first one in Flanders to obtain a PhD in arts.

Dirk’s way of working allows for coincidence and imperfection. Success and failure play an indisputable – and highly casual – role in his approach. Since 2008, his work has evolved from a minimalist structure to a more layered lyrical abstraction. His research further resulted in reflections on materials such as diamond, gold and silver, which in turn translates in points of contact with Anne’s work.

The jewels by Anne Zellien and the paintings by Dirk Vander Eecken are joined in a play of similarities and differences. Both oeuvres reflect each other’s splendour, material studies, colours and layers. At the same time there is an important scale contrast between the two art practices. As such, the works form a complementary narrative, each with their authentic and unique strength.