The oeuvre of Stijn Cole has been accumulating since 2002. The relation between the object and its surroundings is central. Light, not the medium, is crucial here, since the way we experience colour and form is to a great extent determined by the intensity of the light they are subjected to. Cole is constantly bringing this knowledge into play when creating his installations and other works. He always reduces his images to their purest essence. His choice of media is eclectic: there’s video as well as sculpture, painting and mixed media, photography and graphics and besides abstract work, he also creates figurative art. And yet his oeuvre demonstrates great coherence. In Cole’s universe, themes like time and landscape painting are endowed with a renewed beauty that translates into a contemporary version of impressionism. Each new series of Cole’s works is connected with a specific period, walk or journey, which gives it an almost documentary quality. Cole describes his contribution as modest, just a filter he puts on reality. But with the utmost precision and subtlety, he challenges the viewer to take on an active role. In this manipulative game, he entices the viewer to engage in experience of intensity, space and shape that will time and time again prove to be surprising. His newest works increasingly take the shape of installations, landscapes created by Cole that the audience is invited to wander around in.
Stijn Coles light
The word `Timescape’ has unmistakably reminiscences with `Landscape’.
And with some sense for exaggeration this aspect of the artworks of Stijn Cole could be even linked to ‘pleinairisme'. Cole’s `Timescapes' are in fact “landscapes seen and set in time” dealing with light, air, landscape and/or seaviews. But here all resemblances stop: Stijn Cole ‘s work involves a very laborious and time questioning process, which has little to do with only sensory experiences set in the here and now.
On October 17, 2007 Stijn Cole’s assistant made a digital photograph of the sea view from the beach in De Panne (Belgium) and this every minute between 17.45pm and 20.15pm. He simultaneously did the same thing in Dover from 16.45pm till 19.15 pm taking into account the time zone difference. Of every image he transferred the colors onto a digital two-color split bar, so both "Timescape De Panne" and "Timescape Dover" resulted in one hundred and fifty bars (the amount of minutes they photographed) full of water and air slowly fading from daylight till the dark of night. Running through the vertical bars is a horizontal line: this is obviously really the horizon, the elusive line between water and air.
The two "Timescapes” are shown standing opposite of each other in the Caermersklooster, so you never see both of them at once. As you never could be simultaneously in both De Panne and Dover. And as you can never simultaneously look to the west and east. 'Landscapes', in the time given. (and including a paradox: when Stijn Cole and his assistant made the recordings they looked at the same horizon and towards each other ...).
Upon first view the two Timescapes are very similar: viewers think they are seeing two identical works of art. That presumption works for the slow darkening of the beams portraying the air and the almost uniform gray of the seawater finally resulting in the dark of night.
But "Timescape Dover", especially towards the end of the day, shows more blue, as if there was a brightening. And the water of the sea in De Panne is much more red, as if the setting sun reflects its light on the surface of the sea. But is this really true? The digital color processing which Stijn Cole applies deals not only with 'reality' , but also with a lot of other factors and parameters.
What is it really all about: Stijn Cole creates reasoned, taut, schematic high-tech work, driven by digital imaging techniques, which he does not really see as a post-digital version of the landscape, but much rather as an examination of and an intense way of dealing with natural light.For it is the light that determines what color an object is: colors are not objective, light and shadow affect incessantly. Only if you, as an artist, consciously manipulate and shape them, they get shape. In these Timescapes as a combination of time and space.
It is the essence of Cole’s 'Times Landscapes' and indeed of his entire oeuvre: he starts from an observation, a record he then entirely subordinates to natural light finally defining the form and perception of the observation. Running through that light, in all its forms, is a horizontal line which is not without importace: in other works Cole has already departed from that horizon to build a quick series of successive images, here the horizon is a mainstay, to see the colors in perspective.
And all this in such a cool way that the viewer still gets touched by the essence: the 150 minutes of light string to each other as a Navy-digitized Turner.