curated by Dirk d'Herde

In the early 1970’s Werner Cuvelier (1939, Jabbeke, Belgium) became one of the leading conceptual artists of his generation in Belgium. He came into prominence by producing a series of works – conceptualized as research – that sought to turn into visual form the « objective » data and statistical relationships that underlie the mechanics of cultural production, distribution and exchange. His ultimate goal was not the production of on image per se but, rather, the deconstruction through visual representations of the quantitative relationships behind what he called « the problem of art »(« het probleem kunst »).

Werner Cuvelier attended Sint-Lucas School of Art in the city of Ghent, where he graduated in 1963. Soon after he became a member of the Visual Research Centre (Visueel Opzoekcentrum) and of the group IX of Ghent, which brought him into contact with other members of his generation, including Rene Heyvaert, Yves De Smet, Octave Landuyt, Leo Copers and the art critic and curator Jan Hoet.

Cuvelier began showing his work early on in Galerie Foncke and Galerie Plus Kern of Ghent. In the 1980’s and 1990’s Cuvelier exhibited regularly in Galerie l’A and in Cyan, now gallery Nadja Vilenne, in Liege.

Drawing on the work of Joseph Kosuth, Sol Lewitt, Dan Van Severen, Rene Heyvaert and, especially, the abstract representations of Agnes Martin and the « surveys » of Hans Haacke, Werner Cuvelier developed a unique artistic strategy for the organization, cataloguing and inventory of all kinds of objective data which he employed to reveal the ultimately subjective and arbitrary nature of human events. These data were presented in diagrams, book editions, photographic series or notes.

In the 1980’s, Cuvelier’s work turned towards a more painterly representation of geometric and arithmetical relationships as pure minimalist indexes. In a rich production of drawings, paintings and conceptual works, Cuvelier moved away from his research into the mechanisms of the art world focusing, rather, in the conceptual relationships behind such mathematical constructions as the golden ratio or the Fibonacci series.

In his recent works he returns to the ‘real’ world from which he presents the objective data in a pure painterly way which, surprisingly, often reveals their underlying socio-political structure.