Ger C. Bout


Ger C. Bout

Could any artist's oeuvre in retrospect be seen as an A to Z, a linear and rational development? Art historians often would like to think so. Some artists stick to a set of rules that limit their actions while building their oeuvres, which these art historians often like to refer to as 'coherent oeuvres'. This classification is built on a visible relationship between the works, while the consistency and visibility of the 'artist's hand' in the production is highly validated. This kind of art tends to become uniform or at least recognisable as the work of artist such and such. It seems that work A has led to work B to C to D etc. until it was closed at the Z – or possibly earlier – when the artist stopped producing work by choice, illness or death. Other artists seem to have started at any letter in their endless artistic alphabet and happen to hopscotch through it in a very free way, surprising themselves, surprising their audiences and maybe even some critics. I would like to think of Ger C. Bout as an artist of this second category.

In our regular lunch meetings, Ger and I talk about how the artworld is a snake consuming its own tale, how culture is infested with economic and political mechanisms and how politicians shy away from art or put it to work for their own political agendas. And we talk about Ger's multitude of collaborative projects and at times 'Ger the artist-scientist' enters the conversation. Trained as an architect, this self-made artist-scientist talks about how he meticulously tries to develop the necessary (for him) new techniques and skills to, say, be able to photograph and print details of groups of flowers on a format that could fit the entire end wall of the Tate Modern's turbine hall and shock and awe the audience.

Ger is a pleasant table companion, who displays his interests in art and the quotidian with passion and in a decisive manner. It is black or white. Grey does not exist in Ger's mental palette and vocabulary – and neither in his work. It is either this or that, not a bit of this, a bit of that. His trains of thoughts are fluid and have the effect of a stain of oil on a picturesque lake. He likes to refer to his collaborative works as roller coaster rides. In these projects, schoolkids, blind people, elderly people, craftsmen... – you name it – play equally important roles in the development and production of the artwork. Each project is a ride on a roller coaster train that is formed by all of those who work together on this particular project. Miraculously, the train manages to keep itself on track, despite the high risk of derailing of the cars in the series of loops that keep getting more risky and complex while the ride develops.
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