“Soft News” is the first Brussels solo show by Charline Tyberghein. “Europe’s best young painter” is presenting enigmatic work that combines a minimalist alphabet of forms with surrealist appeal and intimate meaning.
Mere months after after graduating cum laude from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2018, Charline Tyberghein won the KoMASK Masters Salon Painting Award, which saddled her with the title “Europe’s best young painter” for a year.
We say “saddled” because such titles can be poisoned chalices. They create immense expectations at a time when artists are still in the midst of defining their identity, a process which requires absolute freedom. We could question the need for an umpteenth, carefully marketed prize, but something tells us that Charline Tyberghein doesn’t need our thoughts to know in which direction she wants to go.
Despite the heat of expectation breathing down her neck, this young artist continues to make unconventional work, which – as “Soft News” attests – appears clear at a cursory glance, but which conceals just as much playfulness from the viewer. With a number of double-sided acrylic paintings on wood, which occupy the space around a painted table, “Soft News” appears to stage a moment in time. Beneath chequered tablecloths, the paintings show the contours of everyday objects like cutlery, glassware, sausages, a pretzel, salt shakers, and beer mugs.
lost & found
There is nothing to gain from naming these objects. Tyberghein employs them like a personal alphabet, an expanding and metamorphosing arsenal of forms, which – independent of their palpable surrealist appeal – mask a more profound form of meaning. Not “hard” and factual, but “soft”, intimate news. Defiant, even. Sometimes the contours are no more than that: edges, formed by the links of a chain. Occasionally the chequered pattern of the tablecloths is interrupted by the objects that they envelop. Glitches appear in the system.
All these factors make the work enigmatic and radically open. According to Tyberghein, it would not be too far-fetched to interpret the dinner scene as a break-up situation. “All my paintings are about finding or losing one another,” she has said in the past. That is easiest on the edge of nothingness. Minimal, fragile, and intriguing.
CHARLINE TYBERGHEIN - SOFT NEWS > 1/6, Beursschouwburg