Risquons-tout is an ambitious thematic group exhibition at the Wiels Museum in which 38 contemporary artists explore risk, the unpredictable while using unexplored alternative rules. Much of it revolves around transgressions and the changes that digital culture and artificial intelligence bring in our consciousness and imagination.
in 2016 street artist Chris Devins launched a GoFundMe page to finance a mural on the facade of the building where Michelle Obama grew up. After raising $12 000, he unveiled a portrait of the first lady as an Egyptian Queen.
Born in Vietnam, Thao Nguyen Phan is a multimedia artist who draws inspiration from the rich and tumultuous history of her country of origin. Monsoon Melody is an exhibition that shows three of her most recent projects: Tropical Siesta (2017), Mute Grain (2019) and Becoming Alluvium (2019) which are video installations accompanied by paintings and drawings. The inspiration is taken from the narrative of Vietnam and in particular its turbulent history during the French and Japanese occupation as well as the repression under the early era of communism. the paintings that accompany the films are using traditional techniques such as lacquer painting, silk painting or watercolor in a critical and contemporary way.
Dream of March and August
This series of silk paintings accompanies the film ‘Mute Grainâ€™, made by the artist in 2019. The film and the accompanying paintings take as their starting point a 1945 famine that took place in Vietnam and is believed to have caused the death of over 2 million people.
â€˜Dream of March and Augustâ€™, takes its name from the two protagonists of the film â€˜Mute Grainâ€™, a brother and a sister who are separated by the death of the sister and they exist in parallel worlds, one living, one dead and they are always searching for one another.
These beautiful dreamlike paintings are hung in couplets as if brother and sister are always side by side, supporting one another while being divided.
There are some 34 silk paintings in this series and they are suspended in pairs, they are spot lit, the light travels through them, they have a certain kind of votive or devotional quality.
They are very slow somehow in their pacing, they are extremely beautiful, they are almost naÃ¯ve, there is almost a kind of sentimentality to the imagery, but as always in Thaoâ€™s work it is undercut by a hint of violence, by certain jarring notes that make us question what story it is sheâ€™s trying to tell.
Thereâ€™s often these strange juxtapositions of very classical or fairylike imagery with certain objects that for the artist are kind of symbols of the modernization of Vietnam, for example a conveyor belt or an escalator, these things that are kind of typical of the shopping center or the airport, these moments of transition.
Voyages de Rhodes
In the series titled â€˜Voyages de Rhodesâ€™, Thao-NguyÃªn Phan takes a book written by French Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes (1591â€“1660) which describes his travel experiences and observations, including in the region of present-day Vietnam, during the seventeenth century as her canvas.
Phanâ€™s visual interpretation his stories that mixes her own paintings, which she places on particular pages of this book, that she has carefully removed and individually framed.
Close to a hundred pages are framed perpendicular to the wall, as if the book itself is daring to transform its own significance.
Phanâ€™s interventions in the book interweave different narratives that sit between realism and fantasy.
Reflecting upon the problematic communist agrarian reforms in post-war Vietnam that led to the redistribution of land and collective farming.
The WIELS Contemporary art center has reopened its doors after a few months under lock-down so that the public could have one last chance to see the current exhibits as they have not been extended past their initially planned of late August deadline.
After a career that spawned over two decades Wolfgang Tillmans’: Today Is The First Day was the 1st ever time us Belgian fans got a chance to see his work in one of our museums. His previous exhibits were shown in famous institutions such as the Tate Modern in 2017 and is moving next to the MoMA in 2021.
Wolfgang Tillmans is an artist who has pushed the boundaries of photography and image creation. He first got noticed in the early ’90’s for pictures of his entourage and the techno music scene. His photos got picked up in a few urban culture magazines like i-D and Spex that documented alternative lifestyles linked to the techno and LGBTQI communities. In 2000, Wolfgang Tillmans was the first photographer to win the Turner Prize.
If you missed this interesting exhibition at the Wiels or are interested to get to know his work, above and below are some of the pictures I took during the exhibit.
Once fully renovated in 2022, the KANAL-Centre Pompidou will become the single largest cultural institution of Brussels devoted purely to contemporary art and architecture in all its form.
Exhibitions and artistic residencies were organized for 14 months under the general commission of the Center Pompidou. Below and above are pictures, from among other things of the Phantom Offices & Red and white exhibitions.
the KANAL – Center Pompidou is located along the Willebroek canal, in a bit of a run down neighborhood currently undergoing major transformation and gentrification.
The short but prolific career of artist Keith Haring took place during the span of one decade, the ’80s. Bridging the gap between street graffiti and the art world, Haring initially rose to fame from the hundreds of illegal public murals and drawings he made between 1980 and 1985 in the subways and sidewalks of New York City.
“All kinds of people would stop and look at the huge drawing and many were eager to comment on their feelings toward it. This was the first time I realized how many people could enjoy art if they were given the chance. These were not the people I saw in the museums or in the galleries but a cross-section of humanity that cut across all boundaries.”
He believed that art was for everyone and that in order to reach as much of a broad public as possible that there was no better place for it to be displayed than on the city streets instead of the more traditional closed circuits of art galleries and museums.
When Keith Haring was 21, he was becoming aware of street graffiti and street art and in the “publicness” that art can be presented in by making the works during the rush hour among commuters in a very social setting. Between 1980 and 1985 Keith Haring made thousands of what are called chalk subway drawings. These would have been otherwise carrying advertisements for hot dogs or perfume but when the advertisements were expired it would be covered with this black paper.
He saw these blank canvases as a a place in which he could present his visual universe. So they would be very temporary, very professional, very generous but also a way of presenting his work in a very public open-handed way.
Above fingerprints record of Keith Haring after one of his multiple arrests for illegal graffiti in the subways of New York
“More than once, Iâ€™ve been taken to a station handcuffed by a cop who realized, much to his dismay, that the other cops in the precinct are my fans and were anxious to meet me and shake my hand.”
Early in his career, Keith worked on different mediums that were freely available throughout the city. Like for example, plastic sheeting or wooden panels used in construction or advertising boards in the subways, etc. Observe the two wooden panels, what do we see? We see a TV with Mickey, and a character whose head is a TV. In the 1980″s, more and more homes had a television set. Keith wants to draw attention to the influence that the media can have on us: consumption, manipulation through news. Mickey, is a positive childish symbol, and was all the rage after WWII. Even though this symbol is positive, it is artificial. does not exist and it is a product of the imagination. Already, in the 1980″s, people had started to reflect on the influences of the media and the limits to be set. Observe these above drawings: the symbols are clear, there is no text. The aim here is for the artist to make his works accessible to everyone. The fact that these are clear and visual brings the public closer to his art. Take, for example, abstract artwork: an audience that is not used to attending exhibitions would find it difficult to interpret the message. This is not the case here, the designs are very symbolic.
Keith felt that artists also had a role to play as spokesmen for a society at any given point in history. He purposely chosen a medium that was accessible to masses to addressed hot topics of the era such as: Gay rights, racism, AIDS epidemic, nuclear war, religion and the excesses of capitalism.
By Observing Haring’s work above, we can clearly see that it is a message related to racism. This work plays on empathy, by reversing the roles: where a black kicks out a white holding him on a leash. The Black character is also holding in his hand a cross, symbol of religion. Religion can constitute the origin of a problem. We can take colonialism as an example: most colonies had a religious mission to spread the faith of Christ, but this was used to subdue the local populations and make it easier for the occupation of territories and yield power over them.
Let’s take a look at this work above, which is about the death of the famous singer John Lennon in NYC. The singer was shot and killed in front of his house by an ex fan. The artist, shocked by the news, had a dream of John Lennon with dogs jumping through a hole across his body that we can see in this painting. We can also notice other significant symbols, typical of the artist: The baby on this book is surrounded by lines, symbolizing innocence, but also in some cases danger. Two characters read the bible, alluding to the killer Mark David Chapman, a deranged religious zealot who used to be a fan but sought kill him when Lennon, in a public statement said that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” and for some of the lyrics in his songs “God” and “Imagine“. Mickey, as seen above, can symbolize manipulation and consumption.
The artist rarely dates his works but when he does, the date indicated refers to an event that deeply marked or touched him. Here, we can see in both portraits above and below “1981”, year in which the existence of AIDS was discovered.
He was terrified of how aggressively the virus was spreading in the gay community, being himself homosexual and promoted safe sex through hist art.
Think outside of the box by Keith Haring
In just a few years, more than 40,000 people are died of AIDS. In 1988, the artist tested positive for HIV as his former companion had contracted it and died 2 years earlier.
We all know his earlier art style, but once HIV appeared in the New York city gay community, this traumatized him as many of his friends died and he knew he was at the time highly susceptible to one day catch the virus.His artistic style has started to change a lot. The features are more violent, touches of red appear. Taking a look at Keith Haring’s drawings above, they are all framed with a red line. Indeed, the framing alludes to comic strip boxes, but the red contrasts with the black. The horned snake that we see there symbolizes the disease of AIDS. The serpent comes out of the frames, which represents the violence, power and speed it’s propagation. This work is in a completely different style from those we have seen previously. During the period when the artist knew he had HIV, he opens up and his work becomes a diary, filled with moments of his life. Keith Haring died in 1990 of AIDS, like many of his friends.
POP ART SUPERSTAR
It was in 1983, that Keith Haring really exploding as a pop art superstar and was being invited to exhibit internationally. he was like a sponge he was drawing inspiration from pop art, from the street art, from hieroglyphs and from the hip-hop culture. Creating his very unique visual pop style that became ubiquitous with the 1980’s
Old scrapped New York yellow cab hood used as a canvas by Keith Haring
The barking dog one of the main characters of Keith Haring’s art used to call to attention, either for anger or as a warning