Knifeforging - Antoine Van Loocke
Blackbird Monobloc Dague ritualis A Table Vlaamse punt Le Rallec Home Bootsman Press

much older than Abraham…

And after him, Odysseus, Alexander the Great and Attila the Hun benefited. A little closer to our times there was King Arthur, Vasalius, peasants, commoners and other people, and the great Escoffier. The literature is brimming with knife fighters; from the surgeon to the knife thrower in the circus, from the head cook to the xylographer, the art of cutting is caught unawares and the heroism attached to it, too; from flick knife to fish knife, meat knife and Swiss Army Knife, but also machete, stabbing knife en razor, stylish or ordinary. There is the trivialness of cutting, the elegant modus operandi, the superior pluck and the corresponding gracefulness.

A metal knife is a sign, one that represents transience, finiteness. But the knife is also a reflection of beauty, wealth and sophistication of times long past or a testimony of the reality of recent times, from the high north to the deep south, from the Occident to the Orient. It is a symbol of esteemed nobility or nouveau riche, of beauty to bestiality: the knife that rises above all clichés.

Antoine Van Loocke
and Knife forging

A knife is an obvious part of a general set of instruments. And Antoine Van Loocke believes it should be, too. His Patattenscheller is a symbiosis between an unusual Muskox’ horn and a recycled blade, found in the rubbish bin of a silversmith. Le Rallec, made from oosic, a walrus’ os penis, and fire-wrought Damascus steel is just as mush an example of creative coexistence. And is the Monobloc actually a kitchen aid or an artefact, the Pteridactylus a pocketknife or a letter opener? Does the A table offer a multitude of functions or is it meant to an artistic gadget? There is the choice: intention, usefulness or timeless enjoyment? The uniqueness of each of the creations is the product of a harmonious fusion of material, shapes, creation and purpose.

The materials used, living, oxidising, forever restlessly and patently changing, form an interaction that is characterised by mutual cohesion. Antoine sets himself up as a universal ‘coutelier’ who nevertheless draws his creations after the knife has been made, in so doing deliberately addressing an ironic wink to Homo industrialis, the one who purports to be the master of all things. It is then the knife as object that questions the knife as concept. Consequently each knife becomes an annotation in the margin of modern times and forces one to think of the status quo. Even the Vlaamse Punt, as-of-yet unaffected by rust, alludes to transience in the handle’s Vanitas engraving: Man is no god, but mortal and finite.

The knifes coming out of Van Loocke’s workplace, are apexes of sophistication - piece per piece - witnesses of a self-conscious austerity in a design that is experienced as an uncomplicated amazement, as perfection folded into itself. There is the temptation, the excitement – at times soothing, sometimes slightly frightening, but always unaffected. A purity radiates from his work that immortalises dignity and sensuality. This is no artificial fuss but a challenging craftsman’s inspiration moulded into an artistic design.

Antoine Van Loocke’s work can be associated with two concepts from the vocabulary of the Ancient Greeks: ‘technè’, the art of making, executing, producing and ‘poièsis’, from the hidden to the manifest, from the shadow to the light. Each and every one of his knives incarnates this ancient concept pair. And, just like a modern philosopher said: every knife is a metal soul with wrought thoughts.

Willy E. Laureys - The Art Server



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