Ria Verhaeghe (b.1950) is a Belgian artist living and working in Bruges. Her oeuvre spans across painting, sculpture, drawing, collage and video, primarily concerned with giving new importance to images and photographs of death and tragedy found in newspapers that are often quickly discarded and forgotten.
For the last thirty years, Verhaeghe has been assembling an image database called Provisoria, in which approximately 60.000 images are ordered according to a personal bookkeeping system (or “matrix”) of keywords, colors, dates and groups. Through this collection, she aims to conserve, present and re-contextualise these images within new frameworks of meaning and significance.
The Provisoria collection forms the nucleus of Verhaeghe’s practice and serves as an important inspiration for numerous other works. These cover a wide range of techniques and media, including painting (such as the Verticals), drawing, collage, sculptures (such as the Prayer and Cuddle sculptures) and experimental video. Provisoria was presented at various exhibitions, including a solo exhibition at the Museum of Photography in Antwerp (2008) and at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies Barcelona (Alma Matrix Bracha L.Ettinger and Ria Verhaeghe; 2010).
As a mostly self-taught artist, Verhaeghe’s work is heavily influenced by her studies in music history and professional background as a nurse. Her practice has a strong focus on public projects, participation and collaboration with different groups and audiences, such as young people, adults, senior citizens, refugees and prisoners.
Notable solo and duo presentations include: Panta Rhei, Spiegelrei, Be-Part, Waregem, Belgium (2023); Verticals, Installation in room of Medieval Art, Museum of Fine Arts (MSK), Ghent, Belgium (2022); Dismembered newspapers, Galerie C. De Vos, Aalst, Belgium (2013); Alma Matrix, Bracha L. Ettinger and Ria Verhaeghe, Antoni Tapies Foundation, Barcelona, Spain (2010); Kunstenaar te gast, Cultureel Centrum, Hasselt, Belgium (1998) and Niettegenstaande de tijd, Gele Zaal, Ghent, Belgium (1992). Selected group presentations include: (un)common values, National Bank of Belgium, Brussel, Belgium (2022); Panta Rhei – Spiegelrei. Work in progress, in collaboration with Jasper Rigole, Museum Dr Guislain Ghent, Belgium (2020); Work for Vertical, 5th Biennale of Moscow, Moscow, Russia (2013); All our relations, 18th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (2012) and Screening: l’eau ‘s écrit, Grand Tour, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent, Belgium (2003) among others.