When you’re talking about modern, and certainly contemporary, art, you cannot overlook the novel ‘the unkown masterpiece’ of Balsac and his imaginary artist ‘Frenhofer’. Frenhofer embodies the internal struggle of each artist to express his idea about art on a canvas. The novel concerns the struggle of Frenhofer with a portrait on which he is working for more than ten years. Since he has met her, he is studying her beauty. He even hesitated, after ten years, whether the time had come to start painting her portrait. Frenhofer thought he could bring his ideal woman back to life and have her break out of the canvas; in stead he blocked her up behind a wall of paint. Ultimately he destroys his work, after a wake-up call from the young Poussin. Modern artists of the 20th century all identified themselves with Frenhofer; Cézanne even said that he is that fictional charachter. They were all familiar with the ‘curse of the unfinished masterpiece’: finish the artwork and it is spoiled; let it unfinished and it holds a promise which haunts you as a voice you cannot move away from. Which choice is an artist than to make ? It is a rethorical question. For a better understanding of this question, you ought to go back further in literary times, to the meaning of the episode of Ulysses and the sirens from the epic poem of Homer. Unlikely as it may sound, this episode would be much better source of inspiration for an essay on ‘the artwork as idea about art’ than Balsac’s ‘Unknown Masterpiece’. An artist kinda ressembles on Ulysses, enticed away by the enchanted songs of the sirens. In the choral songs of the sirens, the art scene is moved by something that concerns her own activity. It is that beautiful idea, that ideal circulating around in an artist’s head – unquestionable and unlimited, that are his sirens. To that image is the suggestion linked of an enticement without which the enterprise of an artist has no meaning. That’s why artists balance on the border of the tragi-comic. What the enterprise of an artist turns into something tragic is the fatality evoked by the growing selfconsciousness that – as the artwork progresses – the enterprise is an illusion. An illusion of which the fatal attractiveness continues to work on even afer the illusion is revealed by their ‘young Poussin’. So, it doesn’t matter what you choose. What remains is the possibility not to interfere and surrender to the power of fascination. By doing so, an artist is at the mercy of the sirens. Isn’t that what your are looking for as an art lover/collector. Someone who cherishes labour, someone who overcomes its fear to the extent that he dares to be scared again. Someone who is too skilfull, is an Ulysses who turns the helm away instead of tying himself to the mast and confronting his sirens. The latter is the only breeding ground that enables the transformation of workmanship into true art. Doing so, you will find – like Ulysses – that tiny piece of land in the vast dangerous ocean where art and life seemlessly overlap. What makes the enterprise comic is that the artist pretends to know what he is talking about but not at any time forgets that he is pretending. The ignorance has to be sincere. That’s the bottomline. You can pretend as much as you can on the opening of the exhibition but the windows of the art gallery have to become steamy. ‘Pretending sincerely’ is a constitutive element of an emerging artist: it is the verbal equivalent of lighting a sigaret to take an attitude, wrote a Dutch novellist. It is camouflage for the vulnerability an artist ought to be exposed to in order to reach a veritable artisitic level. Or, metaphorically, to be a bright star in the sky, you have to work for years as an invisible sun. The status of a star which brightness increases as its life expectation decreases, isn’t that what each artists aspires ? Again, a rethorical question. Because a comet that appears as quickly as it disappears is like Damien Hirst who draws circles and dots on paper and, on top, dares to claim title thereto. If you work without doubt and too handy, what remains is the exterior of the form. Like a comet: fascinating lightflashes but made off dust and volatile gasses. This being said, I owe you an observational proof: the exhibition of the Belgian artist Patrick Keulemans entitled ‘the multilingual point’ at the ‘White House Gallery’ in Lovenjoel. Irony is the lifeblood of his conceptual art. But there is more to it than that. As you reach the end of the exhibition, you realize he has taken a step beyond irony. It is realized by way of a serie of splendid selfportraits, created with a self-designed pen from which the ink flows organically as if art and life seemlessly overlap. As a result, it are not the artworks that become unquestionable but rather the vulnerability embodied in the artworks which becomes unquestionable. A star ‘in the make’: his artworks are, like a sun that turns into a star, turned inside out. As if he overcame his fears and, consequently, workmanship.