GHOST IN A SHELL
April 18th — April 30th, 2018
The Embassy | Rue Guillaume Stocq 2, 1050
Francis Alÿs, Harold Ancart, Michaël Borremans, Pieter Brueghel, René Magritte and Luc Tuymans.
Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more—like dew-drop from the grass.
— Edgar Allan Poe
The show brings together a group of Belgian painters who span across centuries, and create moments of contemplation through their poetic observations of everyday life. Set within the historic hôtel de maître space, the works are contextualized by the domestic environment and evoke the Flemish tradition of painting and secular patronage.
A figurative narrative becomes the leitmotif for the show, with the each artist’s approach to their subject yielding a partial and incomplete gesture. Each painting embodies a memory held in time and a voyeuristic look through another’s eyes.
A local scene of springtime flurry by Pieter Brueghel sets a historic touchpoint for the show, and offers a narrative recollection of daily life lived centuries ago. The 16th century Flemish master broke away from past tradition and focused on the quotidian existence, in celebration of domestic and mundane experiences.
Francis Alÿs, Michaël Borremans, and Luc Tuymans represent a generation of contemporary Belgian artists who seek to find meaning in figurative painting as an intimate and internal experience. Alÿs gravitates towards motifs that are at once abstract and replete with referential meaning. His diptych presents a Royal Logistic Corps soldier, stationed in repose, beside a colour patch taken from the soldier’s sleeve. Charged with poetic and political trauma, it magnifies a small moment.
The haunting portraits by Michaël Borremans and Luc Tuymans are emblematic of each artist’s gesticulation and desire for probing psychological layers. Borremans’s hooded figure, softly titled Lily, harkens to a childlike nightmare while Tuymans’s In the End You're Just Dad sets up a wordplay that memorializes one’s father.
The youngest of the group, Harold Ancart, has been an important voice in new generation of young Belgian artists. Ancart’s early works reveal his mastery as a draftsman as he attempts to capture the instability of images and failing echos of recollection. The works are meant to be viewed as fragments of thoughts and incomplete verses, embodied within the shell of the architectural space they inhabit.
The Embassy was founded in 2016 and is a private residence in the heart of Ixelles, Brussels, which has been an international consulate and hôtel de maître in past lives. Owned by Ronald Rozenbaum, the space houses a private collection and exhibitions on the ground floor level. The Embassy’s mission is to present ambitious artistic endeavours on special occasions.