Michael Borremans – Eating The Beard

Michael Borremans – Eating The Beard

Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart

Michaël Borremans, “Red Hand, Green Hand,” 2010.
Oil on canvas, 40 x 60 cm.*

January 22, 2011

Michaël Borremans
Eating The Beard

20 February – 1 May 2011

Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart
Schlossplatz 2
D – 70173 Stuttgart

From February 20 to May 1, 2011 the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart is presenting a comprehensive solo exhibition with over one hundred works by Belgian artist Michaël Borremans. Alongside paintings, drawings, and filmic works from the past ten years, there will be a series of new works that are being exhibited in Germany for the first time.

The scenarios composed by Borremans in his pictures, which are frequently small-format and intimate, hark back to positions and genres from art history as well as to the pictorial languages of photography, theater, or cinema. They are teeming with contrary references and allusions that offer the viewer a multitude of possible interpretations while avoiding any manner of consolidation into a coherent whole. Realism and the fantastic the transient and the manifest, irony and disturbance are all closely interwoven within his visual worlds while simultaneously precluding one another.

In his works, Borremans traces the contradictions and conflicts of human existence: between self-assertion and dissolution, the individual and the collective, desire and angst, control and loss, the moral and the abysmal. Being shown are illusions of identity, freedom, and the controllability of the world, which the artist presents to us with its wealth of instability.

The paradoxical pictorial spaces of his drawings are permeated by contrary perspectives and proportions, by formations and deformations, reality and scenery. They show model worlds, depict people who are immersed in the acts modeling and constructing or in peculiar experiments. Museum, theater, or public spaces are negotiated as showplaces in which the positions of the observer and the observed are continually shifting. Other drawings in turn seem to reflect storyboards for films, drafts of stage design or projects for public space, addressing rather the conceivable than the realizable.

In contrast with the frequently busy scenarios found in his drawings, Borremans’ paintings all resemble still lifes, though they in fact are showing, in most cases, human figures from varying angles: isolated beings who establish a relationship neither to their pictorial surroundings nor to the viewer; body fragments or their shells; strange hybrids between people and furniture or other objects. The characters appear disengaged from all temporal or spatial contexts. At the same time, they execute gestures or actions—at times banal, meaningful, or absurd—the backgrounds and consequences of which remaining completely ambiguous. Others, in turn, allude to corpses laid out for view, appearing as objects in vitrines, their veiled faces reminiscent of death masks.

Borremans’ drawings, paintings, and filmic works are strongly interlinked, but without dealing merely with formal “translations” between the mediums, or with geneses among “draft,” “preliminary study,” and “finished work.” Instead, he probes the margins of the various mediums. In fact, his filmic works also emanate a feel of the still life, in which there seldom seems to be any activity going on—at least if we encounter them with the customary expectations of film images and filmic narration. The minimal actions of the protagonists seem to be mechanical, almost as a reference to the filmic apparatus itself, whose illusionary effects are concurrently reversed.

An exhibition by
Württembergischer Kunstverein

In collaboration with
Műcsarnok | Kunsthalle Budapest

Iris Dressler, Hans D. Christ

Saturday, February 19, 2011, 7 pm

Press contact
Iris Dressler
Tel: +49 (0)711 – 22 33 711

Press conference
Friday, February 18, 2011, 2 pm

Press release

Press pictures

*Image above:
Private collection, courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

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Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart
January 22, 2011

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