James Lee Byars
Matthew Day Jackson
Steve Mc Queen
Jean Luc Moerman
In Altmejd's earlier work, he made hyper-complex installations consisting of spaces, edges, passages, staircases and so on. These 'architectural structures' aren't organized in a logical way. They seem to have grown into this form, like organisms or bodies. 'Sympathy for the Devil' contains works of Walter Vanhaerents' vast art collection. Each of them are linked in one way or the other to prominent ideas in the song: the fascinating beauty of evil, the attraction of moral or psychological hell, death and danger as a celebration of life, extreme and transgressive behaviour and a pronounced tendency towards sexuality.
Three years ago David Altmejd (°1974, Montreal) finished a series of monumental mirror sculptures. These six giants were first exhibited at the opening of the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. They were designed as classically-inspired colossi. Later on they became part of the Vanhaerents Art Collection in Brussels. In 2009, the giants traveled to Le Magasin in Grenoble and Les Abattoirs in Toulouse.
To David Altmejd, these giants are architectural entities. In his earlier work, the artist made hyper-complex installations consisting of spaces, edges, passages, staircases and so on. These ‘architectural structures’ aren’t organized in a logical way. They seem to have grown into this form, like organisms or bodies. This concept of ‘architecture as a body’ was turned into ‘the body as architecture’. Thus the Giant was born. A human form was given spaces, staircases and holes, just like a building. The Giant became a construction that could even be a home to small animals.
The mirror was first used as a part of Altmejd’s architectural installations. As a periscope, the mirror was used to see hidden objects. From there it evolved and turned into an important formal element. Altmejd often used crystals in his work, suggesting a process of transformation. The mirror was introduced as an alternative to these crystals. Though the giant already existed in David Altmejd’s work, these colossi are for the first time completely covered with mirrors. Breaks and gaps in the surfaces have to do with the artist’s love for imperfection. The giants are always abstract, realistic and constructed. As constructions they evoke a sense of improvisation, referring to life, growth and transformation.
Crystals, transformation, suspense, energy: these concepts are all very present in David Altmejd’s work. It’s like Jim Henson’s film The Dark Crystal (1982), taking place in ‘another world, another time,… in the age of wonder’. This mysterious other world again comes to life here. The dark element in Altmejd’s work (the werewolf, decapitation, decomposed bodies…) has led to the label of ‘modern gothic’. Before being an artist Altmejd planned to become an evolutionary biologist. Perhaps that’s why he constantly creates these remarkable symbioses between architecture and biology.
Through a dialogue inspired by the artist the collector has conceived a distinctive setting for the six individual works. The giants are shown in a space with a mirrored wall and a black wall. Thus the walls seem to disappear. The endless mirror effect turns the physical space upside down. You are now entering a disturbing setting in which space is no longer what it seems. The chess-board on the floor refers to Marcel Duchamp. The infamous French artist, creator of the famous urinal, used to be an ardent chess player. His work buried coded messages that could only be fully comprehended by proficient chess players. Here the giants are standing as players on an endless mirrored chess-board, as extraordinary, perhaps even extraterrestrial beings visiting us from ‘the age of wonder’.
Els Fiers – journalist and art critic
Sympathy for the Devil
For this second group exhibition in the Vanhaerents Art Collection curators Walter Vanhaerents and Pierre-Olivier Rollin have again chosen the title of a rock song. ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is the first track on the Rolling Stones album ‘Beggars Banquet’.
The exhibition contains works of Walter Vanhaerents’ vast art collection. Each of them are linked in one way or the other to prominent ideas in the song : the fascinating beauty of evil, the attraction of moral or psychological hell, death and danger as a celebration of life, extreme and transgressive behaviour and a pronounced tendency towards sexuality. Some loaned works complete this exceptional and consistent selection.
Participating artists: Hamra Abbas – David Adamo – Christian Boltanski – James Lee Byars – Wim Delvoye (courtyard) – Nick Ervinck – Urs Fischer – Barnaby Furnas – Anna Gaskell – Kendell Geers – Antony Gormley – Mark Handforth (courtyard) – He Sen – He Wenjue – Jenny Holzer – Matthew Day Jackson – Barbara Kruger – Gabriel Kuri – Terence Koh – Claude Lévêque – Nathan Mabry – Steve Mc Queen – Mario Merz – Jean-Luc Moerman – Yasumasa Morimura – Farhad Moshiri – Bruce Nauman – Ugo Rondinone – Christoph Schmidberger – Sudarshan Shetty – Yinka Shonibare – Johan Tahon – Wang Du
Image: Matthew Day Jackson, detail, Study Collection 1, 2009
Stainless steel shelves, wood, medical replacement joints, replica of Phineas Gage’s tamping iron, rapid prototype of artist’s skull fused digitally with Phineas Gage’s skull, bronze, steel, plastic, lead, models of the U.S./Soviet nuclear weapons, carbon fiber and Trinitite
Gerrie Soetaert - Press & Communications T +32 (0)475 479869 F +32 (0)2
Opening April 23, 2011
Vanhaerents Art Collection
29, rue Anneessens, 1000 Brussels
The Vanhaerents Art Collection is accessible to individual visitors every first Saturday of the month between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. after inscription, using the form below.
Entrance: Adults 10 €, Students 5 €