The Voeten Collection represents a unique combination of both Belgian and international works. Currently it comprises over 1700 art pieces that have been collected during a period of more than 40 years. They are exhibited in two separate locations – at the Art Center close to Herentals and at the sculpture park near Gheel.

Pravdoliub Ivanov

A Thought Within a Thought Within a Thought, 2008, laser-cut steel plate, powder-coated in black, 134 x 164 cm

The Bulgarian contemporary artist Pravdoliub Ivanov (°1964, Plovdiv, Bulgaria) lives and works in Sofia. In 1993 he graduated in painting at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia. Since its founding in 1995, the artist is member of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Sofia. Despite his training in the traditional discipline of painting, Ivanov creates art pieces in diverse media such as drawings, installations, photographs, videos and sculptures. The images he uses in his art pieces are most often very ordinary objects that are with us every day and thus recognizable for everyone. His works possess qualities that motivate the viewer to rethink his/her ideas about normalcy.

Art critic and curator Iara Boubnova defines Ivanov as a highly qualified 'interviewer' of art in its relationship with society. The artist questions the seemingly self-evident and in his work there is almost always the hint of a question about what art is today and where its place is now.

Pravdoliub Ivanov created the artwork A Thought Within a Thought Within a Thought in 2008 for the group show MoleculART curated by Boris Kostadinov. The piece is made out of a laser-cut steel plate, powder-coated in black. Ivanov made this sculptural object in response to the idea of the curator to make an exhibition about the connection between art and new technologies going beyond the imagination.

The artist wondered about the effects of science and technology on the human being. What is the influence of scientific and medical research on our existence? Do we really become wiser by exploring the human body further and further? And does this ever-increasing knowledge changes us? When the brain expands, do we become different as our ancestors or as how we were before? Furthermore the artist reflects on the relation between science and ethics. What are the ethical consequences of ever more profound scientific research? Do we become better humans by researching the bodily secrets more and more? Ivanov wonders: what makes us more human – exploring or sharing?

A Thought Within a Thought Within a Thought represents the human brain as an ultimate symbol of mankind, as 'tool' of human beings as well as research object for science. Ivanov based this image on a medical photo he found on the internet. The title of this sculpture can be enlightening as well as confusing, says the artist. The spectator gets a clue, but has to seek him/herself where to start the reading of the work – from the inside towards the outside, or vice versa. The artist was inspired by Matrioshka dolls, more specifically by the way they fit together and the repetition of the figures or the so called nesting-doll effect. He repeated the image of the brain three times in different sizes and fitted them together. The result of this manipulation is a complex overlapping pattern of tripled brain convolutions.

Text: Sarah Gallasz, October 2015