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Strook at Sint-Janshospitaal

Strook presents free-standing sculptures in the attic of the St. John’s Hospital, such as ‘One More Day IV’ and ‘One More Day V’. These are steel vitrines with matt glass, in which busts made of scrap wood seem to disappear. The case around the figure creates a distance between the sculpture and the viewer. It prevents any form of encounter. From a distance you can see the contours of the figures, but as you approach, they fade into unattainable beings. Like a mirage of memory.

In his work, Strook shows how transient everything is, especially when the weight of time begins to press downwards. Time is intangible; you cannot grasp it, only express it. Almost all his works are about transience, but also about memories that fade forever.

Strook himself is also deeply scarred. The titles of his works and exhibitions suggest a personal drama, which he incorporates into his sculptures, paintings and installations. His brother died in 2012. That loss permeates everything. His 2019 exhibition ‘One More Day’ revolved around his impossible longing to spend just one more day with his sibling.

Strook notices that his own memories or feelings, once concrete, are deteriorating. Time gnaws at them, just as it does the scrap wood. His memories become a mental construction; a monument erected in his head. In that sense, you can also see his work as cerebral architecture: a stack of disappearing recollections and thoughts. They are pieces of a distorted reality. Mental spaces and monuments for memories that are gradually slipping away.

The loss of his brother remains a watershed in Strook’s life and work. Since his death, he has realised how fragile humans are. Being fragile is not an admission of weakness, he says. It takes courage to dwell on the finite nature of life.

Strook’s work symbolises the relationship between people and their surroundings. How we, as nomads, occupy places and change things, before abandoning everything and allowing it to fall into ruin. That natural process of construction and destruction is inherent to his work. In essence, it is about the circularity of our existence. Because everything disappears in the end, including people and life itself.