From April 10 until May 24, 2015, the MeetFactory in collaboration with BIP – International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts of Liège, Belgium presents the CHIMERA exhibition. Curated by Anne-Françoise Lesuisse, the BIP’s artistic director, and Marc Wendelski, BIP coordinator and a photographer, it brings together four artists from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (Marcel Berlanger, Patrick Everaert, Djos Janssens and Eva L'Hoest).
The exhibition CHIMERA is the culmination of the partnership developed between BIP and the MeetFactory. On the occasion of the 9th International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts (BIP2014), which took place in Liège last spring, Karina Kottová, chief curator at the MeetFactory, and the artist duo Hynek Alt & Alexandra Vajd proposed an exhibition, ‘About the Chair’, bringing together more than thirty Czech artists. In return, the MeetFactory opens its doors to the BIP to present today a selection of artists from the French-speaking Community of Belgium.
CHIMERA presents three artists from the French-speaking Community of Belgium, who are important in the field of contemporary visual arts, alongside a young, talented video artist.
The exhibition is supported by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s Visual and Fine Arts Department, the Wallonia-Brussels International (WBI), the Liège-Province-Culture and the Armando Testa Brussels Group.
The Curators’ Statement
CHIMERA… a mythological animal, fascinating and hybrid, associating a lion’s body, a goat’s head and a snake’s tail. Strong and evil, the chimera of mythology gave rise to numerous interpretations and the word came into general usage to describe illusion and reverie.
Chimerical figures have been linked with Mannerism which, during the Renaissance period, coerced the classical line towards volutes and sinusoids, burst apart the balance of the composition in favour of discontinuity and dispersion, saturated space and obstructed any viewing from perspective, preferred chaos to order, shattered unity and resemblance in favour of discordance and a mixing of influences. The imitation of nature, the correct proportions and homogeneity were no longer the order of the day in the decorative exuberance of Mannerism, which privileged the virtuosity of the artists and their ability to create an unreal, dreamlike or nightmarish world, in which the parts no longer formed a homogenous whole. Within this, to develop a hypothesis suggested by André Chastel, a French art historian and an acknowledged specialist in the Italian Renaissance, the grotesque, monstrous and chimerical figures which have been linked with the Mannerist movement interrogate the very idea of representation itself, and its ability to depict nature and reality, to be credible, to form a coherent whole, or to tell an unequivocal story.
The chimera, therefore, as a concept, as a metaphor, has some connection with the Image: it understands precisely its falsehood, its unreality and its powers of enchantment. It points out this space where, at the heart of resemblance, a question may be raised which jeopardises equilibrium, unity and coherence. The chimera is a heterogeneous composite, which forces the Imaginary into an act of interpretation, bringing perception to a stuttering state, and blurring the balance between what is being looked at and what is actually seen.
Each in their own way, the exhibition’s artists work with the monstrous. It should be remembered that the word ‘monster’ comes from the Latin ‘monstrare’, which means ‘to present, to show’. The monster, in this sense, is no longer a synonym of ugliness but on the contrary, lavishness brought before the gaze: it is the extravagant that astonishes, fascinates and awakens the eye through its strangeness. It is not the unknown, it is not the hitherto unseen, and it is not the unrecognisable (in that sense, abstraction is never monstrous). On the contrary, it is a form situated at the crossroads of genres, influences and territories. It is a new jigsaw puzzle, composed of the same pieces fitted together in a different manner. It is an excess, which offers the gaze a unique opportunity to see its own reflection, to be reflected in an enhanced mirror, to blur the benchmarks of the possible. The artists presented work on the borderline between two worlds, the known and the unknown. They take common sense, a shared repository of images and words, pure forms already seen before as starting points, to distort and transform them, to deeply affect them in the space of their forgotten monstrosity, there where something is thrown off balance.
Given the different working processes which they privilege, each with their particular and very dissimilar methods and the completely specific formal results they obtain, it is doubtless too risky to catalogue the CHIMERA artists as ‘Post-Mannerists’. They nonetheless share a position which echoes that of these sixteenth century painters, jammed ‘into the intersection of antagonistic, Medieval and re-emerging discourses, and through that assuming a skewed position in relation to the dominant orders,’ as has been pointed out by Professor Catherine Delvigne of the Dunkirk Regional School of Art, in the catalogue L’envers du décor. Dimensions décoratives dans l’art au XXe siècle, published by the Lille Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. This shared position is, deep down, a political – and a moral – one, before it is one concerning the visual arts. In going down a different direction, it takes the form of resistance. And we discover once again the status of the grotesque on our pathway, as Delvigne again points out: ‘The grotesques escape from the space which hosts them, and from the discourses in which they must be inscribed. This character, probably parasitical, worms itself into the cracks of the system, developing a position which is more paradoxical than belligerent and head-on.’
In the gaps created by the artists between what we recognise of forms, images and words, the exhibition’s chimera unscrews the real and holds out a mirror to us.
The artistsMarcel Berlanger
(1965, lives and works in Brussels) is numbered amongst the most important living painters in Belgium. Playing an active role on the Belgian and international scene since 1992, he participated in numerous collective and personal exhibitions in galleries and art centers. His upcoming projects are in particular: an individual exhibition at IKOB (Eupen) in 2015, followed by another one in 2016 in the new exhibition spaces of BPS22 in Charleroi. In this context, we are very happy and honored to be able to count on his presence, which will consist of the presentation of new works being part of his current research. These will reflect his fundamental concerns such as the medium, light, visible material, the modes of appearance (and disappearance) of the image and the both ghostly and tangible character of the latter, releasing the tension between the individual experience and the motives shared in a collective memory…Patrick Everaert
(1962, lives and works in Charleroi) for his part is a painter who abandoned the paintbrush to orient himself towards an artistic practice which, without being photography, is related to it. His indefinable visual works are created at the crossroads of media-related, perceptive and literary issues. Patrick Everaert’s images are underpinned by a political will without saying it so openly and which doesn’t appear as such. Neither without demonstration nor illustrative of any point, they question the spectator’s sensitive and reasoned responsibility. Patrick Everaert’s « photographs » are mounted, constructed and assembled using a stock of found images, collected thanks to an inexplicable intuition. They assemble and disassemble all visual benchmarks our eye has got used to, from the flood of images with which we are bombarded every day. An unsettling strangeness and the suspension of judgement reigns supreme. Patiently constructed over a long period, first with the means of collage, then with the help of computer tools, Patrick Everaert’s work has since 1992 occupied a unique place in the landscape of Belgian visual art, and has been the subject of many individual and group exhibitions. Patrick Everaert has been the subject of a personal exhibition during BIP2014 at Espace 251 Nord ("Evermore", curated by Laurent Jacob and Anne-Françoise Lesuisse).Djos Janssens
(1965, lives and works in Liège) started his career in fine arts in 1998, which has been patiently and constantly developed, becoming more profound up to the present day. He is also active as a curator. Following the publication of an imposing monograph published by the end of 2014 at La Lettre Volée Editions (From Beyond, with texts by Claude Lorent, Christine Jamart and Aldo G. Turin) and his participation in the exhibition « Mirages » during BIP2014, Djos Janssens is presenting for CHIMERA a new in situ installation entitled Foreign. Impossible to categorize and transdisciplinary, Djos Janssens’s work marries the domain of visual communication (self-adhesive lettering, adhesive images and printing on diverse types of supports, neon, etc.) with formal concerns and preoccupations with meaning, which jointly and continually shift the comfort of the spectator elsewhere and carry him deeply away, to some place where communication precisely never risks going. Based on scholarly or popular literature, colour and found or taken images, Djos Janssens has also on many occasions occupied public space. With a particular humour and not without a sense of melancholy, the artworks produced by Djos Janssens, the form of which deviates the twentieth century’s profane materials from their common practice, tackle issues combining the political and the poetic with delicacy and a knowing out of step approach. Eva L'Hoest
(1991, lives and works in Liège) is a young video artist about to finish her master’s degree in videography at the Académie royale des Beaux-Arts de Liège – ESAL. Her works have already been the subject of exhibitions in Belgium, Germany and China. From 2010 until 2013 she was a member of Superette, a collective of young artists who ran a space dedicated to exhibitions and events. Eva L’Hoest’s work is very promising. She uses video to occupy the real, mixing in her pieces the physical presence of the person filming which, in certain respects, comes close to being a performance art of which the final artwork keeps the visual and audible trace. Starting from the chosen visual material (night scenes, film sequence shots, photographs, etc.), she puts a new spin on them with nuance and subtlety. In this manner, she produces visual and audible figures and forms, in which a tenuous narration and strange affects are embedded, placing the spectator in a simultaneously stunned and worried state. Eva L'Hoest will be in residence at the MeetFactory prior to the exhibition. BIP
Since its origins in 1997, the International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts Liège is conceived around a topic which combines matters of society with issues related to the image.
BIP combines the high quality of its artistic programming and grappling with contemporary issues, with the widest possible accessibility, notably thanks to an important mediation work and accompanying educational activities.
BIP supports young upcoming artists by conducting a significant work of prospecting in the French speaking Community of Belgium, carried out with equal vigour throughout the territory of Belgium and abroad, and invites internationally recognized artists to Liège.
The 9th edition, BIP2014 – PIXELS OF PARADISE, brought together close to one hundred artists in twelve exhibitions, from March 15 until May 25, 2014. About twenty independent exhibitions were organised in the context of the BIP/OFF festival all over the city.
In addition to the exhibitions curated by the organising team, the invited curators were Laurent Jacob (Espace 251 Nord); Pierre Muylle (MADmusée); Emmanuel d'Autreppe, Dominique Mathieu and Yannick Franck (Les Brasseurs Art contemporain); Karina Kottova with Hynek Alt and Aleksandra Vajd (MeetFactory – Prague, CZ); Frédéric Materne (Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Liège – ESHAR) and Marie Pirenne (Fédération des Maisons de Jeunes en Belgique francophone – FMJBF) in collaboration with the artist Michael Dans.
The next Biennial of Liège will take place in spring 2016 and will be the occasion to celebrate an anniversary, as it will be its 10th edition.
The International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts Liège is organised by Centre culturel de Liège "Les Chiroux" (www.chiroux.be)