My Highlights from Art Brussels 2014
Art fairs can sometimes seem quite impersonal and it can be difficult to navigate the mass of information. For this reason, I selected artists whose work I admire and who I have also had the chance to follow closely, through various exchanges and collaborations at WIELS, where I am curator, or via Le Salon, the internet platform that I founded.
Benoît Platéus’s multiform artistic practice, which includes photography, video, drawing, and sculpture, explores ambiguities in the most mundane field of visibility. His art often acts as a ‘psychic apparatus’ that plays on, questions, and reflects the viewer’s perception and consciousness. This image is the first of a new series of photographs in which the artist portrays famous people indirectly through existing public images. Here an image of Dutch magician Uri Geller is presented on the ironing table of the artist. The photograph is transposed to a new context where it acquires a different meaning and a new pictorial quality.
“Orgon Doors” by Isabelle Cornaro are casts in elastomer composed of flea market finds such as decorative objects, coins, or necklaces. The objects are arranged so that they appear to form a narrative, decorative, and entropic whole. The title of this series refers to Wilhelm Reich’s orgone accumulator. In the 1930s, the Austrian psychoanalyst supposedly discovered the biological life energy orgone, which he claimed possessed healing powers. These new works will soon be presented at Museum M in Leuven where the artist will have a solo show, which I very much look forward to.
Leigh Ledare doesn’t need an introduction anymore but his work always strikes me deeply so I can’t help selecting an image of his. The artist’s mother has long been a subject of his work. In this portrait, she looks fiercely at her son who holds the camera. Her pose is seductive and reveals clearly that she was a former model, used to playing with her own image. This image poignantly coalesces two kinds of portraiture: the family portrait and the fashion photograph.
American-born, London-based artist Melissa Gordon explores the cyclical relationships between surface and reproduction, representation and abstraction, seeing and reading. This recent work belongs to the series “Blow Up Modernists” in which she uses the medium of screen print to enlarge reproductions of early Modernist paintings from catalogues, revealing the surface cracks of age while creating new abstract compositions. Her work will soon be presented in a group show dedicated to former WIELS artists-in-residency.
This drawing belongs to a series of 30 portraits by Belgian artist duo Harald Thys & Jos De Gruyter. These enigmatic portraits are stripped of all attributes, marks or signs of identity, yet they are reminiscent of mental patients or other troubled people. Minimalist and yet frightening, these drawings continue the artist’s exploration of dark psychological states and parallel worlds, and were recently the subject of an artist book made by Brussels-based publishing house Triangle Books.
Aglaia Konrad is a Brussels-based Austrian photographer whose work focuses mainly on metropolitan urban space. She approaches photography as an archivist, accumulating images of architectural spaces around the globe, which she then presents as books, installation or films. In this installation, Konrad draws new connections between photography, book, copy, and exhibition display. Iconocopycity is made of enlarged photocopies of the spreads from the book Iconocity, which she pasted on a wall like a block. By presenting the spreads as one surface, completely different perspectives and readings are revealed, and the contrast of the black-and-white images creates a new rhythmic architecture.
Toril Johannessen is a Norwegian artist currently in residence at WIELS whose practice engages in scientific topics and sheds light on the metaphors and creative elements inherent to the various methods of knowledge production. Her “Impossible Pictures” is a series of doodle-like colored chalk drawings based on drawings she made as a child. In these drawings Toril wanted to capture the sensation that her brain creates its own colors and abstract shapes, like internal pictures with no external referents.
New York-based Canadian artist Ryan Foerster develops a non-conformist approach to photography, in which accidents and leftovers are valued. This printing plate, which is a leftover from the printing of one of his books, is a ready made, but contrary to Duchamp’s definition, it has a clear aesthetic value. This work is one of the steps in the production of another work and all together these elements—photos, plates, books—become connected through a narrative of what the artist does and what he wants to remember.