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Conference of Raphaël Pirenne in the framework of René Daniëls' exhibition.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when René Daniëls was elaborating the premises of his pictorial work, the status of painting was questioned with great intensity. Douglas Crimp – theoretician of the "Pictures Generation" – described this era with great clarity in his article published in the Spring edition of October magazine (1981) titled ‘The End of Painting.’
Faced with Crimp’s conclusion, widely disseminated and debated in the world of art, the generation of young artists were pushed to take a position, either by confirming the necessity of closing this story, or - on the contrary – by affirming the necessity of returning to painting and introducing deviances or divergences.
Over the ten years that constitute the main body of his work, Daniëls elaborated a return to painting as a system of representation, with a particular dynamic. Far from a pictorial model that reified the real in the form of a single sign, Daniëls' paintings – notably from the series Mooie Tentoonstellingen – present an exhibition space as a way to show various arrangements of representation upon a vacant surface. This rhizomatic function was elaborated by the artist in several artworks, especially in many drawings that take the form of diagrammes linking multiple reference points, constellations and dynamic networks of meaning constituting a necessary counterpoint to the vacancy of surfaces.