Photography by Rik Vannevel.
About 10 years ago Belgian artist Thomas Lerooy placed a wicked version of his home country's famed Manneken Pis atop the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, left to do his thing over unsuspecting visitors. Today 18 of those mannekens, with menacing golden skulls instead of cherubic faces, are back at the museum as part of the eponymous piece of Playground, Lerooy's most recent solo show.
It's been a fruitful decade for Lerooy, who has a gift for breaching uncomfortable topics —mortality, self-destruction and vice — through sculptures and drawings infused with the same type of offbeat —some might even say, Flemish— sense of humour. "I don't know if my work is humorous... I just enjoy myself," he explains. In this conversation we discussed this approach, as well as the importance of laughing at your own icons and the state of Belgian identity.