Is marble or natural stone a motif in your work?
Stone is a constant in my life, absolutely. Jan Hoet and I didn't have that much in common, but there was one thing: we both always carried a stone. I've done so since childhood. I would busy myself looking for small stones on the car parks of industrial estates. I would also collect minerals and look up all their names. I still often work around stones. They have become a regular medium. A stone is very interesting symbolically: it represents eternity as opposed to our mortality. Humans have limited expiry dates; not exactly so stones. Stones are the opposite of human beings. Lifeless and cold, but very meaningful. That's also the reason why I'm so attracted to them as an artist. You create art in a material that can carry your message for longer than you can as a finite human being. That's the very paradox of life: only dead matter such as stone or paper can spread your ideas after your death.
What pieces of art has this led to?
Summit, for instance, an installation consisting of a series of big boulders shaped like mountaintops, with little crosses on their summits. I've been known to sell someone a stone to put in their shoe. Pilgrims put stones in their shoes to make their journey extra painful. To do penance for and be aware of their deeds. An important motif in my work is Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot. I'm quite marinated in the contents of that book about penance and guilt. When I put a stone in the front of a shoe, it’s a round one. Not a sharp one that causes wounds. But a big enough one that it is felt with every step. It enhances your alertness; it keeps you concentrated on your lesson; it gets people out of their comfort zones. Without shocking people, such a stone incites them to think or to reflect about themselves. Just like art does.
This idea about an inconspicuous presence is essential to your work.
My work is never meant to shock. It is never abstract and always concrete, but also discreet. Its meaning remains open to interpretation. Just like Altar, the silhouette of the Mystic Lamb with the inside left open. It is literally a tableau-vivant that frames the landscape. I like making works that ignite viewers’ fantasy. You must never underestimate them. Don’t forget that man has the monopoly on fantasy. It's just more strongly present in some people than in others.