The Lesbian Gaze

Series of 10 oil paintings, 50x30cm, 2020


The portraits are deliberately not finished, the canvas is visible and the face is not complete. A lesbian identity can only be recognised when it is acknowledged, you only see what you know. Especially women who grow up with too little lesbian representation see themselves through the gaze of a cis-male, heterosexual society and environment. This creates voids in the recognition of who they are. These voids are reflected in the white canvas that is visible in the portraits.


These paintings were shown during the event of  'Intersectional Writing' at Kartonnen Dozen, the ever inspiring LGBTQI+ bookshop in Antwerp. While the subject of the paintings is the lesbian identity, it is important to stress that 'lesbian' is as inclusive as possible and the portraits difference in class and ethnicity. The lesbian shown here as portrait nr 7 is a trans woman and painted specifically as someone who did discover a lot about who she is, while in reality the representation for trans people is still to be improved.



Unsuspected Violets

Installation of 3 flags in oil on wool and silk, 30 labels in wool, silk and kevlar, 2021


The work 'Unsuspected Violets' is a combination of flags and labels that are placed in the trees of the park Hof de Bist, waving high from the beech branches along the paths. They are made specifically for the exhibition 'Point of No Return', curated by Benny Van den Meulengracht-Vranx with art works brought together on climate change.


During my walk in Hof de Bist, I came across a small group of woodland violets, unexpected and moving in their simple beauty. They were the inspiration to make wool and silk flags to mark the locations where inconspicuous plants grow. The woodland violets on the flags are drawn after the violets in Emily Dickinson's Herbarium, which she started in 1846 and it still exists today. The title refers to a poem in which the violets are the silent witnesses of her feelings for Susan. The labels are each described with a word from her poems, they connect feelings with plants like the 'unsuspected violets' from the title. Unsuspected Violets is a work that draws attention to the invisible nature of lesbian identity, it makes language visible, it shows the plants that Emily writes about, it refers to being a lesbian and being invisibly different. Ecology and identity are central to this work of drawings and texts on fabrics. The changes in the climate are not something that happens outside of us, we are part of this and to understand how this affects us we need to become aware of our 'environmental identity' (to use Susan Clayton's words). Unsuspected Violets is a work on creating awareness of our own identity, it could possibly be lesbian, it must certainly be environmental.





To-no is a self-published book about words. The book contains the collected texts by the artists Yoko Enoki, Koyuki Kazahaya and Eline De Clercq. These short texts borrow words from Dutch, English and Japanese that can’t be exactly translated in order to explain what can’t be said in our own words. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘On Craftmanship’ this book is about sharing words between cultures.

To-no is an open project and continues to gather essays by artists who use their experiences in art and cultures to share words. The texts are both in English and in the first language of the artists. This first publication is an unedited limited edition of 25 handmade books riso printed at the Frans Masereel centre, none of the books are for sale. Instead the book functions as an artwork and can be added to exhibitions and when someone wants to read it they can find the entire text online:

About the authors:

Yoko Enoki is a painter who lives in Yokosuka, Japan. She got her bachelor in painting at Tsukuba university and her master in fine arts at Royal Academy of fine arts Antwerp.



Koyuki Kazahaya is a visual artist who lives in Brussels. She got her master in printmaking at Musashino Art university, 2nd master in fine arts at Royal Academy of fine arts Antwerp and Manama at Sint Lucas Antwerp.



Eline De Clercq is a painter who lives in Antwerp, she got her master in fine arts at KASK Ghent.








An ode to the works of Claude Cahun & Marcel Moore

Presentation for international women's day 2021

Warp Art Center, Sint Niklaas

(Dutch text below)

Within her representations of women in European art, Eline De Clercq (b. 1979) painted a series of portraits based on Greek Kore sculptures. Their smiles make these free-standing images of young women from the Greek archaic period so lively and engaging. And, they also had colour. In the neoclassical period, colour was classified as secondary to form, which led to a 'decoloured' vision. Today we know better: the marble was polychromed. Colour not only increased the reality effect but offered the Greek artists more symbolic and narrative possibilities and enabled them to characterise.
Through her use of colour, Eline also gives these women character and personality. It fits in with her research in which she questions female representation in art and culture. An important precursor is the fascinating life and artistic attitude of Claude Cahun (1894-1954) and Marcel Moore (1892-1972). This duo (pseudonyms for Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe) liberated the stereotypical representations of women from the art canon and the social straitjacket. In their art, they show a different perspective: sweet, endearing, empowering, encouraging, surrealistic, elegant, funny, sophisticated, genius, daring, kaleidoscopic and intimate. But under the totalitarian regime of the time, their art was 'entarted', pure degeneracy - if only for their revolutionary daring to address the issue of transgenderism.

Stef Van Bellingen


Binnen haar voorstellingen van vrouwen in de Europese kunst, schilderde Eline De Clercq (1979) vorig jaar een reeks van portretten gebaseerd op Kore-sculpturen. Hun glimlach maakt deze vrijstaande beelden van jonge vrouwen uit de Griekse archaïsche periode zo levendig en aanstekelijk. En, ze hadden ook kleur. In de neoklassieke periode classificeerde men kleur als ondergeschikt aan vorm wat tot een ‘ontkleurde’ visie leidde. Vandaag weten we beter: het marmer was gepolychromeerd. Kleur verhoogde niet alleen het realiteitseffect maar bood de Griekse kunstenaars zowel meer symbolische als narratieve mogelijkheden en stelde hen in staat om te karakteriseren.
Door haar kleurgebruik schenkt Eline deze vrouwen eveneens karakter en persoonlijkheid. Het past bij haar onderzoek waarin ze de vrouwelijke representatie in kunst en cultuur bevraagt. Een belangrijke voorloper is de fascinerende levensloop en artistieke houding van Claude Cahun (1894-1954) en Marcel Moore (1892-1972). Dit duo (pseudoniemen voor Lucy Schwob en Suzanne Malherbe) weekte de stereotype voorstellingen van de vrouw los uit de kunstcanon en het sociale keurslijf. In hun kunst tonen ze dan ook een andere blik: lief, vertederend, versterkend, aanmoedigend, surrealistisch, elegant, grappig, verfijnd, geniaal, gedurfd, caleidoscopisch en intiem. Maar onder het totalitaire regime van toentertijd was hun kunst ‘entarted’, pure ontaarding - al was het maar voor hun revolutionaire lef om het vraagstuk van transgenderisme aan te snijden.

Stef Van Bellingen