A Belgian Museum Looks Back at Three Decades of Experimental Work by Honoré ∂’O
The exhibition’s title, “Holy Molecule,” is in part a reference to the industrial material—such as styrofoam, cotton balls, PVC, and plastic—with which Honoré ∂’O frequently works. These everyday items, the artists says, can be the building blocks for something “holy.”
He has experimented, for instance, with the idea of a styrofoam pearl. Styrofoam, the synthetic polymer, has an unglamorous reputation as material for disposable coffee cups and takeout containers. But a pearl made of styrofoam is pure white and lightweight, containing 98% air. For Honoré δ’O, it is the perfect “anti-material” from which to make something as simple and elegant as a pearl.
The exhibition is meant to be a sanctuary for the mind, a place to roam freely among artworks and texts from various stages in the artist’s practice. Born Raf Van Ommeslaeghe in 1961, he dabbled in drawing and studied architecture as a young man, before his career took off in the mid-1980s, around the same time he renamed himself Honoré ∂’O. He started making assemblages from found objects like cardboard, rope, and discarded paper; soon after, polystyrene—the basis for styrofoam—started appearing in his work as well.
Staged in collaboration with Kristof De Clercq, this collection finds its way to Mu.ZEE, a museum that specializes in Belgian art from the mid-19th century to the present. The works on display are experimental both materially and conceptually. In sculptures, photos, installations, and texts, Honoré ∂’O delves into themes as diverse as pedagogy, fertility, childhood memory, and mythology. While smaller exhibitions of his work can be seen at art fairs and galleries, “Holy Molecule” is a welcome opportunity to experience the totality of his artistic development and vision.
“Honoré ∂’O: Holy Molecule” is on view at Mu.ZEE, Ostend, Belgium, Apr. 16–Sept. 4, 2016.