‘The ways in which we look at nature and the past and keep readjusting our ideas of it is something that interests me very much.’ Like in old movies, Tom Liekens’ dinosaurs have something wooden about them and, placed against the background of a dramatized landscape, confront enormous gorillas. This does not jibe with the actual timeline, but is – judging by a film like King Kong – an imaginary battle royale. Meanwhile, that same film warns of the greatest danger: humankind.
Tom likes to play with the conflict between culture and nature not only in his depictions, but also in his method of working. He inks the leaves of plants and uses an etching press to print them on thin Japanese paper, which he then places on canvas as a collage. There, branches transform into trees and the print of a wooden plank produces a landscape onto which he pastes his woodcuts of dinosaurs and giant apes. The large formats are unusual for printmaking. ‘The plant determines the scale,’ says Tom. ‘Graphics are meant to be reproducible, but I use them to create a unique image. A plant is a monotype; it only lets itself be printed once.’ There too, in an artificially constructed nature on canvas, the fragility of the original material indirectly reveals itself.
• Upcoming exhibitions at Galerie Bart: The Reptile Room 2021
Tom Liekens, born in 1977 in Bonheiden, Belgium, lives and works in Antwerp. He studied Liberal Arts and Painting, with Fred Bervoets, at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp from 1995-1999. He has been exhibiting in Belgium in solo and group exhibitions since.
His work has been exhibited in Belgium and the Netherlands, with the occassional exception in Germany, and even in Tianjin, China. The artworks of Tom are located in numerous private collections as well as public collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Art (MUHKA), Bank Belfius, National Bank Belgium, Artesis University of Antwerp, University of Antwerp, Art Collection of the Province of Antwerp and Museum van Bommel van Dam Venlo and Museum De Domijnen Sittard.
In recent years, his work has been put on display at Galerie Zwarte Panter, Geraard De Duivelsteen, Hugo Voeten Art Centre and Light Cube Art Gallery, all of them situated in Belgium.