To read the Dutch press release, click here.

De wereld van Sofie [“Sofie’s World”] is a group exhibition of works by Ilse D’Hollander, Stef Driesen, Tatjana Gerhard and Leon Vranken. The exhibition is curated by Sofie Van de Velde and Jason Poirier dit Caulier. For both Antwerp-based gallery owners, collaboration is of paramount importance.

Both Sofie Van de Velde and Jason Poirier are from a family of gallery owners and learned at an early age how competitive the art world can be. With Gallery Sofie Van de Velde and PLUS-ONE Gallery they take an alternative route and pursue a philosophy of transparency and cooperation. From this position they joined forces with Galerie Ron Mandos to platform the works of four of their artists in the Netherlands.

The exhibition  De wereld van Sofie takes place at the same time as the solo exhibition Inner Garden by Filip Vervaet from May 12 to June 10, 2022.


De wereld van Sofie takes its name from the book Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder and presents an overview of works by four artists who each have a distinct visual language but share a great affinity. All artists work around the themes of painting and tension.

Leon Vranken (BE, 1975) is a sculptor and site-specific artist. He deconstructs sculptures, buildings, or everyday objects to penetrate to their essence: the line, the color, the function, the material. The outcome of his research is often playful and unpredictable. The elements he brings together end up in positions that sometimes seem difficult to hold, such as Roll (II), a coiled garden hose under constant tension.

Tension is also in the paintings by Tatjana Gerhard (CH, 1974). Take a look at her figures struggling for self-preservation, suppressing their fear and loneliness, or feeling wounded by love. Like misshapen rag dolls, they seem to fall apart only to regain their original form through Herculean effort. In her work, Gerhard shows human existence in all its splendor and cruelty.

In his abstract paintings, Stef Driesen (BE, 1966) creates a certain dynamics and spatiality by searching for a field of tension between foreground and background; light and dark; hard and soft. Driesen’s work is transformative. At first glance, his paintings feel cold, but gradually they begin to glow and radiate warmth. There is a sublime power embedded in the work – like a heavy storm at sea, or the sun breaking through the clouds – that evokes a tense and then enlightened feeling in the viewer.

The abstract paintings by Ilse D’Hollander (BE, 1968 – 1997) are memories of nature. For D’Hollander, who died at the early age of 29, her work was not about painting life, but about making the painting come to life. Her paintings give expression to the feelings and insights that nature evoked in her. Although natural forms can be recognized in them, such as the branch of a tree or the gentle hills of the Flemish countryside, they never refer to a specific location. D’Hollander’s paintings remain abstract, just like memories themselves.

ABOUT Tatjana Gerhard

Tatjana Gerhard is an artist for whom painting is a tool to reflect a form of figuration that oscillates between a naive narration and an existential solitude. The human figure is disguised and appears to be a character in often undefinable spaces. Behind the gentleness of the brushstrokes hides an uncomfortable vision on the human species. With her work Tatjana Gerhard takes a painterly position where reminiscenses can be found of artists such as a.o. James Ensor, Emile Nolde or George Condo. Her work is idiosyncratic and genuine affirming the necessity to further reflect upon the human figure in painting.

Courtesy PLUS-ONE


ABOUT Stef Driesen

Stef Driesen was 1966 born in Hasselt, Belgium
He lives and works in Brussels

Stef Driesen creates expressive paintings that are charged with both emotional and physical sensuality. While recalling human forms, his work operates a subtle balance between landscape and abstraction, a symbiosis between the romantic sublime and mortal carnality. Translating the materiality of paint into ephemeral fields redolent with contemplation, desire, and loss, his paintings convey the fragile and heroic nature of human condition

Stef Driesen’s paintings feel cold. Like bodies, saving their own flesh, with alternating round shapes, hard lines and a skin in soft gray tones. Looking becomes touching. Sometimes the paintings glow, like overwrought fantasies, then you see vague, anonymous bodies in a swirl of hues and tones. Driesen paints them as studies of time and light. As ‘fleurs du mal’ they are a combination of sexual subjects and an emphatic aesthetic, they are major themes that Driesen makes tangible through painting. On the canvas are no empty gestures, the paintings are almost inaccessible. He shows vaguely recognizable shapes and uses paint to give meaning through light and depth to, at first sight, insignificant shapes. He creates an abstract space where the love for matter triumphs.

Courtesy Gallery Sofie Van de Velde


ABOUT Leon Vranken

Leon Vranken (1975) was born in Maaseik, Belgium
He lives and works in Antwerp

Unlike artists, designers are problem solvers, they have to think about efficiency. Utensils have a rich history, one that is deeply rooted in functionality. Leon Vranken’s work deals with a lack thereof. The different components that act here as applied art are primarily visual art. It’s not the division or hierarchy between design and art that captures Vranken’s attention, but the underlying motives. Vranken engages in a charm offensive with the viewer. One that is marked by wit, cleverness and a strong sense of aesthetics. He alludes to recent art historical categories, concepts and genres, often derived from painting. They also refer to themselves, to how they are exhibited. Stuck, as if anytime tension could break. Objects as an instrument of reflection instead of use. As if they are mediators between different disciplines.

Courtesy Gallery Sofie Van de Velde


ABOUT Ilse D'Hollander

Ilse D’Hollander (1968 – 1997) was born in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium

Ilse D’Hollander studied art in Antwerp and Ghent. The influence of French painter Nicolas de Staël can still be discerned in her early work, as evidenced by several large gouaches in which greens and reds dominate. Impressions she absorbed on long walks would provide material for her paintings, which can be seen as after-images of her wanderings. The abstract images record her memories of the rolling hills, the still water of the canal, the fruit trees in the orchard. Sketchy, incomplete, not entirely accurate and with few details – just like memories themselves.

Courtesy Gallery Sofie Van de Velde