maandag 1 mei 2006

Beaufort

Been seeing some bits of an exhibition of monumental art called 'Beaufort' at the belgian coast. This is the second edition, previous one took place 4 years ago. Most of the sculptural artwork is designed especially to stay there and change under influence of the northerm sea-wind.

The first work we saw was the best. In a graveyard next to a small church in Mariakerke, by Ostend, Belgian painter James Ensor is buried. The little church looks serene. When turning the corner to where Ensor is buried, the sight is overwhelming.
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The grave itself looks kinda dull, but french-born artist Louise Bourgeois found this an excellent place to show her work called 'Maman' made in 2001. The gigantic spider cages in on the grave, seems not dangerous but protective. The belly of the 9 meter high arachnid seems to bear eggs. This bronze sculpture must weigh tens of tons yet resting on eight small surfaces seems extremely light.
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Louise Bourgeois, now living in New York, started studying mathematics, worked for Fernand Léger, and is considered one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. And one whose career hast lasted the longest: it seems hard to believe, but this work was made when she was 90 years old. She's 95 now and still working!
The spider has appeared in Bilbao's Guggenheim, in Havana, Ottawa and Tokyo. But this seems the best possible spot.


Next in line was Joep Van Lieshout's Body Bar. Atelier Van Lieshout (AVL) have designed all kinds of objects on the edge between design and sculptures, bridging the gap between necessity and art. They also produce excellent Shaker furniture. Often objects which seem utilitarian are shown in an exhibition context, confusing the spectators.
A huge polyester female body devoid of head, arms and legs lies in the grass.
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One can enter through the right leg (there's even a lock on the door!). Inside it smells like beer, there's a bench and a dart board in a funny place. The translucent end of the left leg looks like a stained window in a church.
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In New York a similar piece is shown since 2005. It was called 'Bar Rectum'. And in 2001 they produced 'AVL-ville', a 'free-state' conceptual work in Rotterdam showing most of their works.


Third work 'la peau du vent', 'the skin of wind' involved a huge slab of marble and a tree in copper.
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Attached to it is a young tree. It is designed for the tree to grow along the copper sculpture and, moving with the wind, to erode the marble. Artist is italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone. The copper tree shows the future: already carvings have been made in the slab to show what can be expected.
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In the sand Luc Van Soom exhibits his 'Noli Mi Tangere'.
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A metallic tree of 12 meters ends its branches with lampposts with a gold finish. At dusk the lamps start to glow in different colors giving a surreal impression. The title hints to the impossibility of touching the light.
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In a church in Blankenberge, chinese artist Ling Jian exhibits paintings of the buddha.
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It's a strange sight contemplating the serene imagery of near-perfect buddha faces in a background of catholic stained windows. The round form of the large rosace is repeated in the form of the five paintings. in the back the framework repeats the form of the neo-gothic ceiling.
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Further on the beach, "The man who saw the boat, in the air" by belgian Jean Bilquin shows a mysterious figure looking at a boat in the air.
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I seems to tell a story; on the boat humanoid shapes seem to evolve, hovering in the air on a gigantic slag of concrete resting 10 meters above on a metallic structure. The figure is split in half. Though the gap one can see the boat and the sea in the background; the body is made of grey concrete but the head is made of bronze. At the front an androgynous face smiles to the horizon, in her hair the story of the boat is carved. At the back of her head/hair a large eye looks at the visitor.
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We finished with 'The song of the frog' by Michael Parekowhai.
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A larger than life ballerina lies on the dam. Gives an eerie, somewhat fairytale impression.
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I think I preferred his 'Rainbow servant dreaming' showing Magrittesque figurines hanging on a wall.


I'll visit the other half of the exhibition alongside the western belgian coast another time.

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