Middle Gate II – The Story of Dymphna Islands

The exhibition project Middle Gate II – The Story of Dymphna is a collaboration between M HKA (Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp) and the cultural centre de Werft in Geel.
Philippe Van Snick

The work Philippe Van Snick (BE, 1946) is characterized by extremely simple forms and by the constant use of the same colours.

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Middle Gate II is the follow up to the exhibition Middle Gate, curated by Jan Hoet in Geel in 2013. The exhibition concept is closely tied to the legend of the holy Dymphna, saint of the possessed, the mentally ill and patroness against epilepsy and insanity. The legend of Dymphna shares a strong connection to the identity of Geel, "the charitable city".

Dymphna is interwoven with Christianity, from her secret baptism by her confessor and confidant Gerebernus, to the care for the poor and needy and the hermit's residence to which she emigrates. She is therefore also accompanied by the book. But actually, her spirituality is enclosed in a short, steadfast answer: 'no'.

In the European Middle Ages, spirituality stands for the spiritual, as opposed to the physical and sensory side of life. Spirituality represents 'the heavenly sphere of light versus the dark world of matter'. Spirituality in the broadest sense relates to matters concerning the mind. The word is used in many ways and there can be connections to religion or supernatural powers, but the emphasis is on the personal, inner experience. In a strict sense, the word indicates consciousness, or the human inner being that sees its origin in a divine or other transcendence, or in relation to a higher or endlessly larger reality. Spirituality is a special, but not necessarily confessional, take on life by a human being concentrating on transcendent truth or the highest reality.

Art can focus on essential experiences and their possibilities of giving meaning: light, in the works of with Róza El-Hassan and Nazanin Fakoor and colour like in those of Alfons Hoppenbrouwers and Philippe Van Snick.

The work Eilanden (Islands) consists of ten elegantly shaped organic surfaces in the ten colours characteristic of Van Snick's oeuvre (primary and secondary colours, the achromatic colours of white and black along with the gold and silver metallics), supplemented by three daytime and night islands in blue and black. The work symbolises a densely populated archipelago of clearly distinct geographical entities. The installation is displayed across the floor, but puzzlingly gives the impression of swallowing the room whole.


Video credits

Middle Gate II – The Story of Dymphna Islands - A conversation with Philippe Van Snick

An M HKA production for ARTTUBE

  • THANKS TO Philippe Van Snick, Marijke De Keukeleire, Leen De Backer, Roel Van Nunen
  • COORDINATE Ghislaine Peeters
  • MUSIC (cc) Alan Špiljak – Light Blue
More info