Bert Daenen / Marcelle Volckaert

The Portrait - European tour


European locations to be confirmed

European Cistercian abbeys form the stage for intriguing interplay

Opus Sobrietate: The essence for which the Cistercian abbeys form the perfect framework.

In 2019, during the annual culture festival "MoMent" in Tongeren, the portraits of photographer Bert Daenen happened to be one of the eye-catchers. The monumental but modest portraits adorned the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Basilica in Tongeren. The timeless artworks made such a big impression that they did not escape the national press and art world. His portraits don’t tell anecdotes but transcend daily reality. They invite you to pause for a moment, then to open up to the richness of the image and finally to discover a fascinating story.

Opus Sobrietate

His most recent exhibition at Gallery de Uitstalling brought him into contact with South African soprano Marcelle Volckaert. They were so impressed with each other's work that they decided, together with Danny Weckx, curator of gallery de Uitstalling, to shape the 'Opus Sobrietate' project.

Because the charming voice of Marcelle Volckaert perfectly matched the restrained portraits of Bert Daenen, they decided to organize a European tour. Five Cistercian abbeys will house the productions for a few days. The performance "Opus Sobrietate" takes the audience to a place filled with silence, tranquility, modesty and purity. Both vocals and images invite the audience to leave the daily hectic, the superficial of today's society behind. Step by step the performance evolves into the moment when only the essence of being remains. The essence for which the Cistercian abbeys form the perfect framework. The interaction between photography and singing thus acquires a dimension never before seen. The audience will undoubtedly be impressed by this unforgettable combination.

Bert Daenen versus Marcelle Volckaert, Uitstalling Art Gallery, Opus Sobrietate

Bert Daenen

Bert paints with light. He plays with color and contrasts. He forces you to gaze to the center of the action: the face and hands. The women in his photos look subdued, musing, focused, deep in thought. Sometimes their gaze is down, some of them look directly at you. They are separate from a concrete environment, which puts them at the center of attention. They seek connection with the visitor who in turn wants to escape here from the hectic pace and worries of every day. Bert Daenen's art refers to the atmosphere that painters such as Vermeer or Rembrandt evoke in their portraits, as well as to the work of Bill Viola or that of photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Man Ray and Walker Evans. After that first glance, Bert invites you to look further. The apparently black surfaces that surround the faces appear to contain a wealth of hues with details that reward the meticulous viewer.


Marcelle Volckaert

Marcelle started performing at a young age with classical ballet, piano, violin and acting. Whilst studying for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Drama at the University of Cape Town, she continued her dance studies with Jennifer Paynter through whom she was introduced to the Pilates method. Marcelle later obtained Pilates Instructor certification through STOTT Pilates (Canada) and the Pretoria Technikon (SA). 


Marcelle’s broad range of performing skills has led to a variety of engagements including: performing in Evita (Artscape); touring with The Theatre for Youth as well as writing and directing a play for the finals of the BP Community Festival. As a soloist for the Opera Activ company she has performed scenes from: Die Fledermaus (Adele), Le nozze di Figaro (Susanna), Don Giovanni (Zerlina) and Cavalleria Rusticana (Lola). She has performed at many of the major venues and festivals throughout South Africa, as guest artist for the Cape Town Festival's Concert in the Park, St George's Cathedral, JHB University Sundowner Concert Series, as well various concerts in the UK, Denmark and Brazil (Pergolesi's Stabat Mater).


Her particular skill lies in creating a powerful and emotional atmosphere for each piece of music she sings, using her delicate and emotive voice. By recontextualising beyond the constraints of classical expectations, in using the musical score as the starting point for creativity (a collaboration with the composer if you will) rather than the end goal of reproduction, she is able to explore the music and character from an intellectual, emotional, musical and in particular a physical level by drawing on the various disciplines in her background.


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