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Sarah Smulders - Space as a living painting

Sarah Smulders – Space as a living painting

Monuments that record our presence. A good example of this is the series that Smolders started in 2011. Each year she would paint a hyper-realistic portion of her studio floor. The first group of works is sized in relation to the window of her studio, while the second group relates to the door. This archive is located in a box in a room at VM Leuven. A selection of these items can always be viewed temporarily.


Smolders gives care and attention to this process. She uses literalism to deceive. It also challenges the viewer to take their time. Her interventions are so subtle that an unobservant visitor will miss them. They slowly reveal themselves. Smolders turns, resumes, and points. Presenting a piece of marble or floor tile as a painting on the wall changes the state and experience of the object. They are afterimages of what we saw. What do you remember?

Smoke makes flaws, imperfections and secrets of spaces visible and highlights them. “When is something right or wrong? I embrace what we consider ugly. It also has to do with attention. During one of my first visits, I saw the ceiling jump in one corner of one of the rooms in the M Museum.” This forms a wedge or negative space that you can also find in the laid floor. Imperfections are also present in her drawings. They expose illusions and show the unique and handmade.

Mirror of life

Smulders’ work offers poetic musings and encourages contemplation. It is no coincidence that many windows appear in her works. The window acts as a metaphorical passage between the visible and the invisible, past and present, memory and forgetting. Smolders thus offers a vision of the world and creates an opportunity for new possibilities and perspectives. Her images act as a key to open doors. “I give visual instructions so you as a spectator can get there without explanation if you don’t see something right away.”

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