Since 1986 Mark Manders(b. Volkel, 1968, lives in Ronse, Belgium) has been working to create his own universe, Zelfportret als gebouw (self-portrait as building), an imaginary place in which his thoughts, dreams and memories take shape. Manders’ oeuvre, which consists of drawings, sculptures, films, poems and especially installations, is a continuous work in progress. Certain elements frequently recur, such as human figures, animals, and also chairs and tables. The coherence between the elements is unclear. It is up to the viewers to form their own associations. Although some objects look like ready-mades, everything is made by the artist himself, using wood, iron, rope, sand, clay, bronze and epoxy. Often the images are put together in an ingenious way and kept in balance by means of ropes or careful weight distribution. Manders frequently enlarges and reduces his objects. The change in scale is always limited, something that is felt more than seen, and therefore disorienting.
An important aspect of Manders’ oeuvre is timelessness. The visitor will not find references to specific moments in history, locations or current events in his work. It is purely about the imagination, which is so free, limitless and open that spectators can set to work with it themselves. The newspaper that Manders creates himself and regularly uses in his installations must also be seen in the same light. The newspaper is filled with English words in a completely random order and contains photographs of the dust in Manders’ studio – in short, it is a timeless document.
In the 2011 edition of Lustwarande, a beautiful and mysterious sculpture by Manders was displayed, an abstract torso with a woman’s head and one leg, with the head resting on a classic designer chair. He called it Iron Figure at the time, but this sculpture is a recurrent feature in his oeuvre, in various sizes, in clay, cast iron and bronze.
For STATIONS, Manders showed a new bust in his characteristic idiom, placed in a wooden box on a wooden pedestal. A yellow board vertically bisects the bust itself. If you looked closely, you would see not a full bust, but two parts stuck together. The middle part of the original sculpture is missing. This bust is cast in bronze but creates an uncanny illusion of clay. The box, the pedestal and the board are also cast in bronze. Nothing is as it seems with Mark Manders, but everything can be what the viewer wants it to be.