Anton Cotteleer is one of Belgium’s best kept secrets. Already in the beginning of his artistic career at the end of the nineties, the artist chooses to undergo an exhaustive research of the sculptural medium. This quest results in a layered and coherent oeuvre. Yet, he doesn’t restrict himself to static and invariable imagery but is constantly looking for other possibilities and new sources of inspiration.
In his sculptures he transforms human and animal forms and everyday elements from the traditional ”Flemish” living room into strange surrealist objects. The artist frequently uses (pre IKEA) objects and designs from the domestic atmosphere but reverts nonetheless back to examples from and references to the history of sculpture. Just like many contemporary painters are inspired by photos and existing images, Anton takes over this habit and doesn’t base his sculptures directly on the human figure but on a picture of it, which he then filters and reshapes.
A central topic in the artist’s work is the skin of the sculpture. Through the use of a bizarre colour or pattern, the addition of odd material such as hair or resin, and especially through the application of a layer of felt, ground to powder, he lays explicit accents. The velvety texture that is achieved through the application of this technique is appealing and repulsive at the same time. In combination with their stylistic beauty and an attempt at technical perfection, Anton Cotteleer’s sculptures and installations reveal a kind of restrained tension and create an oppressive and perplexing effect. Through fragmented figuration and a remarkable mixture of realism and composition, Cotteleer makes a clear mark and what’s more, he creates a recognisably personal and uniquely expressive universe. Mouldiness, sexual connotations, alienation and dislocation are just a few key concepts in trying to figure out the complex sculptural oeuvre of Anton Cotteleer.
Through a personal and sometimes an intuitive way of choosing and combining certain figurative elements, he forces the viewer to actively reflect on every work of art. Through the use of aforementioned elements and different techniques, the complexity of the sculpture is already present in the way in which he realises his work. In that sense his sculptures simultaneously reveal many things about their formation as well as about the profession and medium of sculpture.
As artist and docent, Anton Cotteleer influences the younger generation of sculptors and keeps his finger on the pulse. It is therefore high time for his work to receive the attention and the platform it deserves. In June 2014, the City of Mechelen awarded him the Prize for Sculpture – Grote Prijs Ernest Albert. With the exhibition Behind The Curtain in De Garage in Mechelen, and with the monographic publication of the same name, the importance of his oeuvre is further underlined. The reason behind this publication and the exhibition is not only to offer a synthesis of the highlights of the artist’s works but equally to look to the future.
Director Cultuurcentrum Mechelen
Translation: Kirsi Suutarinen