INTRO by Pieter Maria Steyaert

Obed's work and I hold a common history. We've occupied and shared studios, collaborated artistically, and through all that I was able to witness the youth and development of his artistic journey. I've developed an intimate fascination with his work, built upon his radical techniques..
... but there is more than stories of the secret life of glue, the emulsive struggle of screen printing inks and paint, and the surprising textures of refurbished aluminum –– though these are vital to his process and result in his characterising style. It is the multilayered depth of his creations that truly defines them. His pieces invite an immersive engagement, beckoning the viewer to lean in closely, to discern the intricate details that lie hidden at first glance. But they also require the viewer to step back, to appreciate the overarching narratives and set of symbols that emerge within a series and span across his oeuvre. Each interaction with his art unveils a complex recursion — a perpetual interplay of references that echo both visually and thematically through the realms explored on earth and beyond.

During a recent visit, Obed unveiled the latest iterations of his series. Rather than showing printed reproductions, he chose to prepare variations of his new works specifically designed for travel abroad. For me, as a friend and colleague, this gesture reflects Obed's essence — an artist committed to the sensorial dimension of art, as well as a person who values the authentic connection over the convenience of representation.

I've witnessed his artistic growth firsthand, and he is, without a doubt, one of the most – if not the most – interesting and promising artists and colleague I know.

Pieter Maria Steyaert, April 2024

offgrid 1.2 (2024)
1 / window of opportunity
woven polyester, tarpaulin, lacquer
approx. 120 cm × 160 cm (w×h)

2 / what to do with all you’ve got
woven polyester, lacquer
approx. 120 cm × 150 cm (w×h)

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transfigurations (2024)
1-8 / titles in caption
woven polyester, tarpaulin, lacquer, industrial aluminium
transfigurations: 50 cm × 70 cm (w×h)

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I have partitioned an unstretched artwork from the offgrid 1.1 series named “untitled (white)” into eight segments, intending to serve as the foundation for eight new works. "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Divide it into sevens, even into eights, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth." These words echo the wisdom of the writer of Ecclesiastes, emphasizing the notion that giving precedes receiving and letting go is integral to the process. Through the lens of eight characters, each represented by the same silhouette, these works explore this profound paradox, reminding both you and me of its sometimes arduous yet ultimately rewarding nature.

offgrid 1.1 (2023)
1 -3 / titles in caption
(unstretched) woven polyester, lacquer
offgrid 1.1 series: approx 152 cm × 220 cm (w×h)

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Originally, these works were part of the 'Memory Series' and as such included in the same solo exhibition titled 'My Memory is a Sieve'. The ten canvases in this exhibition were initially unstretched and were presented accordingly during a private viewing at the studio one week before the opening. Stretching the works onto the industrial screenprint frames requires a significant effort and investment. Although it results in a bold and compelling presentation, I always grieve over the loss of the typical rough cut, glued and thus distinctive edges and various textures. Gradually, I choose to prioritize the most authentic presentation method among the various possibilities.

memory series (2023)
1 -7 / titles in caption
woven polyester, tarpaulin, lacquer, industrial aluminium
memory series: 143 cm × 200 cm × 4 cm (w×h×d)

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The common thread of restoration and revaluation permeates the hundreds of paper works (constructions) I have created over the past years. But at the request of the hospital, Where I was invited to host a solo exhibition in 2023, I am showcasing large canvases. While building upon the technical approach of the paper works, these canvases incorporate a different technique developed since 2018. In these pieces, discarded screen printing mesh from industrial sources becomes the carrier for visual constructions serving as an external memory. Here I store valuable discoveries, memories, and  bits of wisdom. (my memory is a sieve / mijn geheugen is een zeef / een zeef is mijn geheugen)

Since 2022, my studio has been situated in a section of a gingerbread factory where the archive of the hospital used to be housed before they built their new headquarters. Here, the reclaimed mesh is carefully restored, trimmed, reassembled, and saturated to achieve new purposes. The work bears many traces of these intensive treatments, honoring the past with all its highs and lows before being built upon further.