by Willem Elias 


What does the work of Marcase have to do with serendipity? It is not as though he set out to draw a perfectly straight line in the spirit of geometrical abstraction and discovered that, by deviating from this objective, he could create other interesting lines. An artist is suppose to know the potentiality of a line. Not just in terms of its mimetic power, but also in terms of its expressive force and inherent beauty, as well as its ability to capture spiritual concepts in a stroke. This summary, which perhaps sound strange, accords with the four definitions of art : mimetic, expressive, formalist and institutional. Not coincidentally, the discovery of what a line can do, except be straight, involves the unexpected. Only when it became a term used in geometry was it tamed into meaning the shortest distance between two points. Etymologically speaking, the word ‘line’ is descended from ‘made out of flax rope’. This notion intertwining captures a sens of adventure and is also suggestive of the layers to be found in the relationship between text and textiles. Thus the unexpected is not to be found in the ‘Marcase line » - yes, it does exist. He has spun the line himself, not found them while in search if something else.

If serendipity is to be given the honour of his book’s title, then it is because, as a principle, it is inherent to his methodological quest for a singular linearity that might be of interest to others. The latter is a prerequisite of art. Ultimately, any expression through plastic prostheses - pencil and brush - can only be art if it is fascinating to observers. If not, it hovers between self- knowledge and psychotherapy. Marcase has developed. The lines that have unfurled from his mind - conscious of the ability of form to create meaning, that is to say his artistry - have led to a ‘language’, as one might have written in the 1960s. Back then we simply believed that painting was a language, without worrying ourselves about the absence of something that might resemble a vocabulary, or the difficulty of establishing a grammar. It is the opposite : painting is a system of signs. The French have a more elegant term, œuvre ( masculine).Within this, for Marcase, the principale of serendipity is the unwritten rule of grammar. The latter is understood as a metaphor, and the potential of the line is the quest. Here, the ‘discoveries’ are denoted by a term that, for once, must be divested of the uniquely pejorative connotations that is holds within the art world : mastery. A term that, for ever and a day, has been equated with the academic, and has always sounded dubious. Marcase does not know which line he will draw. ‘Draw’ is not the most appropriate word. The standard is aspirational. ‘Propel’ would be better, but you cannot say that about lines. But in the case of Marcase, it is allowed. The serendipity does not lie so much in line that is propelled but in the deviations, and the detours that it makes when hemmed in, the lines of flight that lead towards, creatives freedom. Herein lies the subdued richness of his oeuvre.

Marcase started out as a representative of the new figuration and he played his part well. The ‘real’ Marcase is abstract, or better still, ‘abstracting’, because nature is never far away. But not as fanatically absent as it was in the work of the first generation. Robert Delaunay, for example, was excluded for making work the was too realistic. In this, the Belgian Michel Seuphor, who resided in Paris, was the great censor. This banishment of even the slightest link to reality was a tenet that also governed the second generation of abstract artists., who were painting just after the Second World War, and to whose work Pop Art responded. And, it is true to say, it also held sway over the third generation., the artists of the 1960s, who, when the novelty of the pop figuration wore off, longed for a return to sobriety. The fourth generation, to which Marcase belongs, together with his contemporary Guy Leclercq, no longer used abstraction as a principle, but as one of the many possible ways of dealing with form. Geometry was no longer compelling. Should you ever see a landscape in a work by Marcase, it would open to question as to whether this was correct or not. It would be viewed as an added value. In this sense, his work has a post-modern dimension. You will find nothing of the undermining craziness that brings modernism into question. Yet his abstraction transcends dogmatism. The works that made him famous, and in reputable galleries moreover, possess names plucked from musical modernism: ‘ repetition’ and ‘series’. But in tackling these issues through painting, he did something new.


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