Art Brussels had assembled an exceptional 38th edition this year with a strong selection of Belgian and international galleries, however the fair is postponed until April 2021. For this year, Art Brussels has launched its online platform showcasing more than 1500 artworks that will trigger curiosity, here’s what the galleries are showing.
Eugenio Merino’s work is balanced between beliefs and disbelief, paradox and logics, taste and bad taste, respect and offense. The artist often assumes a cynical role and reveals uncomfortable visions of contemporary societies. The opposition of different realities, as well as disparate referents and symbols, also generate different possible ways of reading his artistic production.
Antagonistic elements coexist in Carlos Aires’ work from perversion to catastrophe, festivity, violence, desire, passion, suffering and death. His works have a sophisticated finishing that contains traces of Baroque, a style very present in the Andalusian culture in which Carlos Aires grew up.
Womankind consists of several series of digital photographic collages. These were made using found archival images; images from the internet, magazines, books and photographs taken by the artist. The series of Womankind focus on two of the most important moments in women’s history: the British suffrage movement of the early 20th century and the introduction of the pill in the 1960s, which contributed significantly to the emancipation of women, transforming their relationships with men.
Dale Lewis’ paintings depict the artist’s personal experiences, painted from memory. Reflecting on the realities of contemporary urban life, he focuses on subjects drawn from his immediate surroundings. His paintings inherit the scale, compositional and narrative structures of canonical art historical painting – renaissance and religious scenes in particular – with devices of metamorphosis, transcendence, spirituality and sexuality serving as mainstays.
Yoshinori Niwa’s practice takes the form of social interventions, executed through performance, video and installation. Niwa deploys a nonsensical vernacular to examine socio-political realities, an artistic strategy whose roots can be traced to the post-war Japanese avant-garde. His works’ titles are self-explanatory, usually providing an exhaustive account of the performance contained within the film itself.
Although primarily known as a sculptor, Etrog’s interdisciplinary practice encompassed painting, poetry, dance choreography, film and theatre. The works focus on two motifs that remained consistent through much of Etrog’s oeuvre: links and hinges. These devices were frequently deployed in his “abstracted figurative” sculptures, paintings and drawings as a means of transforming the human body or landscape into a web of industrial forms appropriated from common hardware stores. The works’ joints, muscles and limbs – rendered as mechanical, functional apparatus – oscillate between a poetic expression of humanity’s interconnectivity and an anxiety about our place within an automated society.
Net–Grid (O) is part of an ongoing series by Mandy El-Sayegh, composed by a process of physical layering in which canvases are primed using white oil paint, a ground in which fragments of reproduced words and painted images are embedded. These grounds are then overlaid by hand-painted grids, leaving only snatches of under layers visible. Through these densely membraned compositions, El-Sayegh plays with the notion of imposing order over a dysphoric mass, exploring the slippage that occurs when that which is buried or contained breaks through.
Ethan Cook uses stock colours of pre-dyed cotton, then weaves the cotton into a canvas on a four-harness floor loom. The woven canvas is then sewn together using various ruled-based systems that determine mark making and composition, generally creating color-field abstractions. Being uniquely handwoven by the artist through an intricate and rigorous process, inaccuracies are encouraged to become essential elements of Cook’s woven works.
In his sculptural practice, Tomás Saraceno expands upon the aesthetic experience, producing a moment in which one may ponder possible futures. By engaging the viewer in new modes of sensory perception via the rays of the sun or movement of the air, Sarceno’s suspended structures push the boundaries of our sensory perception. Often, the artworks’ elements include iridescent panels forging a new relationship between the sun and an earth, charged by the shifting of kaleidoscopic colours, shadow and reflection.
Mojtaba Amini is an artist who explores social and political issues through art. His works are defined on the intersection of drawing, painting and installation art. In his “Tears in the City” series, Amini deals with the everyday and public space of the street in tense situations; i.e., when streets become the last resort for public demonstrations of civil protests. The masked, exasperated, screaming figures are altered internet images of street protesters that Amini has translated on the coarse, scratchy and worn-away surface of sandpaper. Buried into each other, the layered figures of the series represent solidarity and unanimity that can reoccur at different times and in different places.
The work of Rosson Crow blends motifs from historical interiors and also tropes from art history. Her images are often repeating and glitchy, supersaturated and almost screen-like.
The video installation Poems from Instant Messaging (ASMR) takes its starting point from the artist’s poetry book published with the same title. The poems, consisting of longer versions of internet acronyms, are presented in an alphabetical order, imitating the dictionaries for instant messaging abbreviations. In the video, Nynke Norberhuis performs the poems in her own ASMR style.
Sergen Şehitoğlu’s GSV series is made of more than hundreds of photographs collected from Google Street View. These images are not simple street photos; they hide within them, not only the objects –people in the streets- but also the shadow of the Google Street View camera installed on top of a vehicle. So here, the photographer and the photographed actually co-exist in the same shot.
Twins brings together two renders, therefore two images of an orchid that was digitally produced. Indeed, the images are the same but the rendering process underlines the “same or different” duality of digital production, while questioning whether it is meaningful to define the art object as unique and original anymore.
After the series Pooltable Painting, Billboard Painting and some pieces of the sculptural work Memory Lane, Simon Laureyns started the series Shelter Painting using camping tents. The new series of work is not named but it is the consequence of the freedom inherent to the Shelter Painting. Just As the Day Was Dawning is one of the three pieces selected for the show that pushes the limits of borders and test our perceptions and feeling with the discipline of the painting.
The painting Bellow is part of the exhibition Floating Head. The show is the outcome of a four months residency which took place in Brescia, Italy, during the lockdown. The painting is related to a process of reduction, sometimes playful, in response to the contest where Osamu Kobayashi operates.
Axel Vervoordt Gallery
Korean photographer Bae Bien-U has always been enthused by the forests and mountains of Kyongju, where the meditative stillness of pine trees surrounds the royal tombs. Pines carry a long tradition in Korean culture; the energy of life is believed to pass through them and so they play a role in many rituals of life and death. At once vibrantly energetic and comfortingly still, the pine forest is a harmonic paradox. It appears to be peaceful and in vertical balance, yet its surface hides a chaotic constellation of swarming roots.
Bosco Sodi’s work with paint can resemble many things in the cultural context of today’s scopic technology — from microscopic images to aerial perspectives on the landscape — but they don’t mean anything specific in themselves. They are definitely, and defiantly, marks of a human but not necessarily a particular one with a delineated biographical narrative. Instead, the figure of the artist is more universal, less individualised, visible to us as a single person manipulating materials to an aesthetic end — and here capitalising on the intrinsic and anciently recognised beauty of turquoise and clay.
Yago Hortal paints in vivid, sometimes fluorescent acrylics, smearing, marbling, and splattering the material in thick, abstract brushstrokes onto large-scale white canvases that pop with colour. Hortal works on several paintings simultaneously, responding to the colours both impulsively and with premeditation, and often letting the paint drip down the canvas. “I look for a balance between chaos and order,” he has said, “something like a combination between a chess game and a boxing match”.
This photograph belongs to Ortiz’s Gaudi series, which includes a set of images of various buildings designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Although we are able to recognise the specific building from which one or the other photo was taken, Ortiz maintains a certain ambiguity: he does not facilitate this recognition, nor does he attempt to prevent it. Although Ortiz is a specialist in photographing the complex large-scale architectural structures designed by contemporary living architects, this series represents his first exploration into the field of historical architecture and his first dialogue with an architect from the past, establishing a delicate and intimate conversation with his work.
Noli me tangere ( the impossible writing) is an appropriation of the meaning of the Latin expression by Jesus to Mary Magdalene at the time of the ascension, one of the most recurrent scenes of the religious painting of the XVI and XVII centuries. The work alludes to the fragility of those elements, sometimes excessive, which are added to the body with esthetic purposes. It also refers to the usual combination of the secretary (and her nails) and the machine, the contradiction between the artificial beauty of the hands and the possibility of writing. The yellow nails contrasted with the old black iron of the typewriter, reveal the tension, suffering and sacrifice implied by both: the act of writing and that of following aesthetic canons.
Galerie Jean Fournier
This series of four triptychs has been specifically designed for the atrium of the Musée des Beaux-arts de Caen. Each individual panel measures 200 x 140 cm, which in triptych form adds up to a drawing 420 cm wide. The joins between the panels mark a break that endows each of these sizable works with a distinctive rhythm. Each panel could in fact be freestanding, but remains part of a whole, as is the case with Joan Mitchell’s big polyptychs. The eye settles on volumes and follows lines, but is endlessly on the move. Uncompromisingly Expressionist, this series also recalls Jackson Pollock’s all-over paintings, with their sheer size and their ceaseless play on the connection between the viewer and the artist’s body. Then there’s the reference in the title to both time and space as the «blocks of movement/duration» theorised by Gilles Deleuze in The Movement-Image and The Time-Image in the 1980s.
The online platform is live until the 15th of June.
Feature caption: Mojtaba Amini, Untitled, From “Tear in Town” Series, 2020. Collage (paper, sandpaper, and paint), frame size: 56 x 49 cm, unique edition
The above descriptions are sourced from the galleries’ press releases.