The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (2 June 2019–5 January 2020) is an inter-generational show of 21 Chinese artists working from the 1980s to the present, including Ai Weiwei, Cai Guo-Qiang, Lin Tianmiao, Song Dong, He Xiangyu, Yin Xiuzhen, and Ma Qiusha.Staged on Level 2 of LACMA's Renzo...
When the London-born artist Thomas J Price graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Arts in 2004, the school's college art prize was by no means his most notable accomplishment as an emerging artist. In 2001, Price presented his much-talked-about work Licked, a daring performance, later profiled on the BBC 4 television...
To coincide with Art Basel 2019, which opens to the public from 13 to 16 June, galleries and institutions across the city are presenting a range of stellar exhibitions. From Rebecca Horn at Museum Tinguely to Geumhyung Jeong at Kunsthalle Basel, here is a selection of what to see.William Kentridge, Dead Remus (2014–2016). Charcoal on found ledger...
Michaël Borremans, Black Mould/The Dance (2015) (detail). Courtesy David Zwirner & Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp. Photo: Peter Cox.
The gallery is dark as a church at dusk. The sepulchral gloom is lifted only by a series of small windows pierced into the walls, behind each of which hangs a spotlit painting. At a distance, these look like tiny icons, or medieval panels, and sure enough the figures depicted might be monks or penitents in their black robes and hoods. But come closer and you get a shock.
The first figure stands like an adolescent waiting to be photographed by some embarrassing parent, arms dangling self-consciously, the heel of one bare foot half-raised as if eager to be off and out of this weird costume. The second holds the garment to him (or her: each face is entirely concealed) like a patient trying to keep his hospital gown from falling open. The third is apparently dancing, quite possibly to a 2-Tone track from the Specials, given the moves. I have no idea why the fourth has turned his back on us, but the stance appears both sinister and extremely deliberate.
For two decades, artist Michaël Borremans has been confounding—and captivating—audiences with his enigmatic paintings. Trained as a draughtsman and engraver at Luca School of Arts in Ghent, followed by several years of photography, it was only after a sabbatical from teaching at the age of 33 that Borremans started to paint. Today, the Belgian painter and filmmaker is one of the most renowned and sought-after contemporary artists of his generation. His moody staged portraits, charged with psychological tension and suspense, are testament to the enduring medium of painting.
Like characters in a Samuel Beckett play the figures inhabiting Borremans' paintings appear to be waiting for something to happen or carrying out activities that are senseless or absurd, often in an anonymous environment bearing little detail. His figures are more like still lifes: posed, passive and frozen in gestures that perplex. Figures are caught in a purgatory of repetitive action, trapped in their solitude in bodies that are restricted, unable to move or, in some cases, incomplete. Absence is both emotional and physical in Borremans' paintings. Heads, fingers and limbs are at times missing—such as the decapitated female figure in The Loan (2011), or the limbless Torso (2009)—like ancient Greek statues. His paintings are like fragments of half-remembered dreams. The faces of Borremans' subjects are concealed or look away from the viewer; in The Virgin (2013), a young girl stands, half-facing the viewer, arms stretched out in supplication, while in The Angel (2013), a tall woman stands in an old-fashioned pale pink dress, looks impassively down, her blonde hair pulled back and her face covered in black paint. In The Devil's Dress (2011)—a painting that references Edouard Manet's Dead Toreador (1864)—a female figure lies on the ground cocooned and obscured in a red polygonal cardboard cylinder, as if lying on a stage.
Indeed, there is as strong a technical and formal foundation to Borremans' paintings that demonstrates a use of and respect for the historical weight of painting. Canvases are loosely painted with brushstrokes that draw attention to themselves in a palette of shadows and earth, lending the works a patina of nostalgia and melancholia. They reference the tradition of Diego Velázquez—an artist Borremans has cited as an influence—and often the violence of Francisco de Goya, like the 'Black Mould' series (2015). In these works, sinister-looking figures with heads shrouded or in black hoods—standing alone or in groups—are frozen like puppets in ritualistic and manic movements, engaging in anal sex or burning limbs. This theatre of grotesquery taps into the collective unconscious' drip feed of symbols and iconography, hinting at religious extremism, Ku Klux Klansmen or the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
The artist uses found images or photographs the scene he wishes to paint, setting up the model, props and background—like Vermeer who used a 'camera obscura'—arranging lighting and composition so that it is painting-ready. Despite their photographic source his works are perhaps more accurately described as unsettling psychological or emotional imprints than figurative paintings, for his figures are neither based wholly in reality nor of this world. The remainder of the painting is carried out intuitively to create scenarios that defy explanation and remain ambiguous, conjuring an atmosphere outside time and outside the linear.
Work by Michaël Borremans is held in public collections internationally, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK), Ghent; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Borremans lives and works in Ghent.
David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Michaël Borremans. On view at 24 Grafton Street in London, it marks the artist's first show at the Mayfair gallery and his first solo presentation in the city in ten years.
Black Mould includes small–and large–scale paintings that feature anonymous, black-robed characters. Alone or in groups, they perform mysterious acts within monochromatic spaces reminiscent of an artist's barren studio. Seemingly behaving according to a symbolic language of their own, they pose alone or interact in communal dances, with some figures holding torches and others exposed naked from the waist down. Their facelessness opens up ambiguous narrative possibilities, like empty canvases with which to construct meaning.
Exquisitely painted with dramatic contrasts between light and dark areas, the series reaffirms the tension between the real and the imaginary that exists within Borremans's oeuvre. The solemn yet playful mood feels inexplicably up-to-date, with the almost cinematic sequence of paintings constituting an allegory of contemporary society. The lack of context or details provides a neutral, yet psychologically charged atmosphere. Like archetypes capable of embodying shifting meanings, the blank figures become a mold for the human condition, at once satirical, tragic, humorous, and above all, contradictory.
While Borremans's technical command of his medium recalls classical painting–the rich tactility and special glow of his painted surfaces evoke the Old Master tradition and artists such as Francisco Goya–his compositions elude traditional interpretative strategies. Subtle elements within their pictorial structure defy expectations and leave attempts at decoding their narratives open-ended. The small size of the majority of the works within the series–dimensions vary, but most are no bigger than twelve by ten inches (thirty by twenty-five centimeters)–further challenges conventional standards, miniaturising the subjects and highlighting the artificiality of representation more generally. The elusive reality presented in Black Mould seems both topical and timeless, just as the robed figures emerge like actors without a clear script. The secrecy may ultimately signify the murky intersection within today's society of faith, morality, and politics, but can also be seen to underscore the ritualistic nature of human life across centuries and cultures. In the process, Borremans's minimal, affective paintings affirm the medium's resilient ability to provide a space for introspective, nonverbal meaning.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by David Zwirner Books and designed by Kim Beirnaert in close collaboration with the artist.
Michaël Borremans was born in 1963 in Geraardsbergen, Belgium. In 1996, he received his M.F.A. from Hogeschool voor Wetenschap en Kunst, Campus St. Lucas, in Ghent. Since 2001, the artist's work has been represented by David Zwirner. Previous solo exhibitions at the gallery in New York include The Devil's Dress (2011), Taking Turns (2009),Horse Hunting (2006), and_Trickland_ (2003), which marked his United States debut. Black Mould marks his first solo presentation at David Zwirner, London.
Consisting of one hundred works from the past two decades, Michaël Borremans: As sweet as it gets is a major museum survey presented at the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas (through July 5, 2015). The exhibition was first held in 2014 at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and traveled later in the year to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Also on view in 2014 was the artist's first museum solo show in Japan,Michaël Borremans: The Advantage, at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
Over the past decade, Borremans's work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at a number of prominent institutions. In 2011, a comprehensive solo show, titled_Eating the Beard_, was presented at the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, which toured to the Műcsarnok Kunsthalle, Budapest and the Kunsthalle Helsinki. In 2010, he had a solo exhibition at the Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo as well as commissioned work on view at the Royal Palace in Brussels. Other venues which have hosted solo exhibitions include kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2009); de Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam (2007); Kunsthalle Bremerhaven, Germany; and the Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (both 2004). In 2005, he had a one-person exhibition of paintings and drawings at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent. The paintings then traveled to Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London and The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, while the drawings were presented at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio.
Work by the artist is held in public collections internationally, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Borremans lives and works in Ghent.
Embarking on a career as a painter relatively late, at the age of 33, Belgian artist Michaël Borremans initially trained as a draughtsman and engraver at Saint Lucas in Ghent. On the occasion of his inaugural exhibition Michaël Borremans: Fire from the Sun at the new David Zwirner space in Hong Kong (27 January–9 March 2018), I spoke with Borremans...
We have sent you an email containing a link to reset your password. Simply click the link and enter your new password to complete this process.
Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.