Izdihar by Laurence Leenaert (@lrnce)



30.09.21 – 28.10.21


Kleine Markt 13

2000 Antwerp



An exclusive collaboration between OTOMYS and St. Vincents

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Laurence Leenaert is an artist steered by the gentle hand of intuition. Navigating mediums and continents, her work shares a deep kinship with the native Moroccan landscape in which she is immersed.


Born in Belgium, Laurence studied fashion and the traditional academia of design before heeding a call to Morocco where she discovered an affinity for the searing and heady essence of North Africa. In the intervening 6 years, her creative aptitude has realised an oeuvre that includes ceramics, drawings, decoration, fashion and paintings all of which homage the singular beauty of Morocco, Unfolding marks a new destination in Laurence’s artistic pilgrimage with a prolific collection of mixed-media paintings steeped in sensorial ambiance of Marrakesh.


Working viscerally, Laurences’ artistic journey has come to settle upon this striking collection of large-scale paintings through an innate channeling of the environmental and architectural landscapes in which she finds herself. The sensorial engagement with the ancient beauty of her adopted homeland – rocky mountains intercepted by the faded green of low-lying shrubs, the cultural collision of faith versus enquiry, the resonance of innovation within centuries old narratives – is rendered upon the surface of her works which are tempered by their contemporary aesthetic. Laurence employs myriad techniques and instinctual interventions alongside an array of tools and materials which she applies to large canvas’s laid bare on her studio floor. Upon the bland expanse she applies natural pigment, raw and stained textiles, oils, pastels and embroidered cloth in compositions that resurrect the topography, silhouettes and colours of her everyday surroundings, transferring them to a visual experience upon a square meter of vertical space. The craggy imperfections of the horizon becomes a black line scored in white space. The heat of the desert radiates from terracottas and the blushing hues so particular to the Maghreb region of North Africa. The gentle rise and fall of layered elements coax natural shade lines in the same manner as the sun upon the undulations of the Sahara, casting pockets of lightness and darkness within elements otherwise left to breathe in negative space.


Through a process of refinement, Laurence works systematically to constantly reflect upon each painting as it develops. A disassembling and resurrecting over many months leaves each work highly distilled so that despite the wash of sensorial fullness, there is an overarching clarity to each piece. Hindsight, altered perspectives and a negotiation between intimacy and the critical disassociation that forms with the passage of time, imbues Laurence’s paintings with a distinct feeling of intention. Like the unravelling of a thread or the labyrinthine atmosphere within the fold of the Medina, Unfolding explores the intoxicating experience of Morocco tempered by the cultural pillars of Laurence’s Belgian origins, and the long-ingrained principles of art and design.


Written by Tiffany Jade.



September 20, 2021