Gallery Artisjok : Bart Ramakers & Roel Stels : Smoke and Mirrors

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: You can only see what you already know and understand. Between heaven and earth there are probably more incomprehensible than comprehensible phenomena, and it is precisely in this in-between, between the known and the unknown, that artists work Roel Stels and Bart Ramakers work.

At first glance, no two artists are more different. Roel is a maker, a constructor, a do-it-yourself engineer who starts with a concept and, like a true craftsman, fully fleshes it out in three or more dimensions, in tangible materials such as wood, steel, glass, aluminium, etc. He turns crosses into anti-tank obstacles, teeth into prayers, symbols and objects change their meaning in the blink of an eye. Bart, on the other hand, has two left hands. He is a storyteller who portrays modern twists on ancient mythological themes in photographed scenes with ambiguity and tongue in cheek. He occasionally ventures into video and sculpture, but always returns to photography, where he indulges in chiaroscuro and theatricality.

What the two men have in common is that they look at the world with concern and long for a dose of magic to restore balance. The balance between man and society, man and woman, culture and nature, rich and poor, identity and solidarity. This is not possible without magic: The existing recipes are obsolete and the imagination of this society is impoverished. Smoke & Mirrors is a large-scale appeal to your imagination. With a broad overview of their respective work, Roel Stels and Bart Ramakers show that anything is possible; you only have to dream it and it exists.

That smoke and mirrors Exhibition includes all Automata for a new world built so far, and the two artists have added two new “world-changing machines” especially for the occasion. It all starts with a new world being needed more than ever, but politicians, financiers and businessmen are doing nothing about it. But it can’t be that difficult: Better education, more funds for those working in the health sector, the necessary climate protection measures and a little less financial inequality, that’s it.

Bart Ramakers and his companions have decided that only machines can achieve this, as they do not suffer from selfishness, interference or conflicts of interest. In which Automata for a new world Discover the series: the conformation, which turns desperate welfare cases into decent citizens; the Escarbot, which allows you to stay fully in your own universe without being confronted with reality; the AE Life Machinethat keeps you young forever; the Oracolodelphinario, which asks you life’s fundamental questions; the YOLO Sentimat, with which you can make your childhood dreams come true; and many other extremely indispensable machines. (

Especially for that smoke and mirrors Exhibition, Bart and Roel designed it Device for making sweetswhich allows you to create jewel children (no education required) and the Imagine the AirChairwith which you can experience your 15 minutes of glory (before you leave the earthly vale of tears).

Bart Ramakers & Roel Stels: Smoke and Mirrors
from July 9th to August 28th
Gallery Artisjok
62-64, Lier (Belgium)
every Thursday-Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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