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Manifesta 09

So a while ago I went to this awesome exhibition; the  European Biennial of Contemporary Art Manifesta 09, which is situated in a old mine site. The place, the artwork, the history, everything was right. If you do live in Belgium or somewhere near enough I highly recommend you go and visit.

“Manifesta originated in the early 90’s in response to the political, economic and social changes following the end of the Cold War and the subsequent steps towards European integration. Since that time, Manifesta has developed into traveling platform focusing on the dialogue between art and society in Europe. Manifesta has become a flexible and mobile structure, capable of continuously changing and reinventing itself. For each edition of Manifesta a new curator or team of curators is appointed who in turn invite artists from around the world to participate.”

I’m hoping to discuss some of the works on them own as soon as possible.
Till then I hope you enjoy some of the pictures I have taken.

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The reclining nude (or naked?).

Henri Gervex – Rolla – 1878

Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress. – John Berger

Based upon a poem by Alfred de Musset (1810-1857), this reclining nude which belongs to the early work of Henri Gervex (1852-1829), who’s birthday it would have been today (160), which(his early works) belonged almost exclusively to the ‘mythological’ genre. Although it is (or should represent) a mythological painting, the lady reclining on the bed is most certainly not a Venus (as told in the poem). Based upon the pile of cloths, the half dressed gentlemen standing at the balcony I could imagine her being a prostitute, reclining and resting after a wild a sensual game of love. The gentlemen still looking upon the beautiful lady laying in (his) bed.

Do you regret the age when, in majestic grace, Fair heaven amid the gods made earth her dwell- ing-place ; When Venus Astarte, child of the mighty sea, Rose from the bitter wave in virgin purity? The time, when drifting nymphs lay on the river’s breast, And with their wanton laughter vexed the lazy rest Of fauns stretched out to sleep upon the reedy shore? When in the pool Narcissus his fair image saw, And when great Hercules eternal justice dealt, Clad in his gory mantle of a lion’s pelt; When mocking satyrs swayed the leafy boughs among, Whistling a jeering echo to the traveler’s song? – Alfred de Musset; Rolla

Although most likely not a Venus, she does have the perfect body, heavenly white skin which could refer to the earlier works of Titian. A voluptuous body of a young lady, reclining on a bed, staring directly at the viewing audience and not in a coy manner, almost as if she invites us to join her.

His work (Gervex) is also clearly influenced by Cabanel (1823 – 1889), which was his teacher. Which can be noticed in the same use of lightly, fresh colors, the white and pure skin, even the breasts are almost exactly the same. Thematically on the other hand there are almost no comparisons possible, except for the ‘venus’ which is shown on both paintings. It should be said that both painting’s mythological theme’s were only an excuse to paint a nude. Therefor there is a difference between a ‘naked‘ and a ‘nude‘. Gervex clearly painted a ‘naked’. Titian a nude. 

A. Cabanel- The birth of Venus -1863

Reclining nude (photo)- artist unknown

Berlinde de Bruyckere

I’d also like to show the comparison made with the work of a contemporary belgian artist (which I shall be reviewing later on).

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Undoing a Building.

By undoing a building … [I] open a a state of enclosure which has been preconditioned not only by physical necessity but by the industry that proliferates suburban and urban boxes as a pretext for ensuring a passive, isolated consumer. – Gordon Matta-Clark

Gordon Matta-Clark ; Splitting (1974)


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The rise of Modern Iconoclasm.

Search & Destroy – Mekhitar Garabedian

Invading their personal space, tresspassing the natural habitat. Some people feel the urge to destroy or damage certain artworks, sculptures. Simply beacause they don’t belong in their environment. The modern iconoclasm is what they call it. Although I don’t seem to find the name being very appropriate is it’s connotation is much more severe then what is happening now. Especially compared to the destruction of religious artwork and the fear for idolatry (without mentioning the the destruction of the Buddhas in Afghanistan, but i’m not touching that one.

Let’s keep it nearby; In Ghent there’s a contemporary art exhibit in town. It exists of multiple sculptures, installations situated all over town. Therefor it’s not remarkeble that some of these became the victim of ‘modern iconoclasm’. (The same thing happened at Beaufort – see below). As you can see on the picture above, the letter is ‘R’ (Search & Destroy) is missing. The piece has been removed from the installation and thrown into the water. Why they did this, isn’t surely known. One thing is for sure; they took the message a bit too serious.

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In search for the ‘true judge’.

“Who decides whether someone can paint or not? Who decides who’s actually capable of doing this (cf. Hume), should this be a good painter? But then again… “

What is Art?

Last night as i was laying in bed, I wondered to myself; what if everybody could paint? And then suddenly realised that they maybe could. What I mean is; as it’s hard enough to try and recapitulate all the schools of thoughts that are possibly out there right now and it would be a lie if I told you, that everyone sees them all as being art. So it also happens to me that I seem to struggle when facing a new work, figuring out why exactly this is art, or why it should be art.

So where do we draw a borderline, in what is art and what isn’t , where do we say to one another; “you can draw, and you can’t”. Maybe it simply isn’t a right thing to do; the “zeitgeist” we seem to be living in isn’t one of standards and rules. It’s a time of institutions and museums, it are these people or groups that decide whether or not something is art. Whenever something finds it’s way into a museum, it suddenly becomes art.

So you could say they are no rules left; no standards to reach. There are only poeple who judge wether or not a work is appropriate. (makes me remind David Hume’s; “On the standard of the taste”; where he tries to describe and find the “true judges”, what makes a critic a good critic; but i’m wanderings off) . But still I can’t seem to find an answer to this rather simple question; “Who decides whether someone can paint or not? Who decides who’s actually capable of doing this (cf. Hume), should this be a good painter? But then again… “

Dear God, no wonder I can’t seem to sleep at night.

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Splashing waves; art & the sea. – Beaufort 04 (2)

Nick Ervinck – “Olnetop” – Bredene (BE)

“All art is but imitation of nature” –  Lucius Annaeus Seneca 

You can see it from miles away; 8 meters high, the sun reflecting on it’s smooth plaster surface, as it arises from behind the dunes. It seems to astonish everyone that passes by, as art should do. It’s almost alien shape refers to splashing waves. To me it resembles a lot more; it seems to reach for the sky, the sun. It’s bathing in the sun, it seems almost divine in a certain way. It’s mysterious, almost sublime (reference to nature and it’s powers enlarged, shown on a massive scale) maybe even dangerous?

In my opinion this is ‘the most astonishing’, ‘impressive’ and ‘beautiful?’ work I saw at Beaufort ’04.

Nick Ervinck is a belgian contemporary artist (Flanders) whose contribution to Beaufort 04 is an 8 meter high (yellow) sculpture/ installation. He searches for the interaction between virtual constructions and hand-made sculptures.

Nick Ervinck – “Olnetop” – Bredene (BE)

Nick Ervinck - Olnetop - Bredene (BE)

Nick Ervinck – Olnetop – Bredene (BE)

Nick Ervinck – Olnetop – Bredene (BE)

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The man who radically changed the art scene.

Eadweard Muybridge.

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