Saisir le silence
unprecedented installations in France
10.22 > 2016.12.31
The architectures and landscapes invented by Hans Op de Beeck sway between reality and fiction. At CENTQUATRE-PARIS, the Flemish artist opens the doors of some of his parallel worlds, inviting the spectator to bring the stories to life by the strength of his/her imagination.
artistic direction: José-Manuel Gonçalvès
public opening on Saturday, October 22, from 2 p.m.
Caravan - 2016 creation
The installation work Caravan is an almost life-sized sculptural installation of a night scene in a fictitious urban area that has been snowed-under. Presumably located somewhere in between corporate buildings, an absent protagonist seems to have organized his own one-person habitat: a small and rusty caravan with a bonfire at the front and props one might associate with someone improvising life on an abandoned location, between piles of garbage. There is a light on in the caravan, so the invisible protagonist may be inside. This filmic scene is both highly romantic and welcomingly cosy, as well as harsh and lonely, referring to people struggling with poverty in a city setting, forced to reinvent or redefine themselves, and having to improvise a living with whatever can be gathered.
For CENTQUATRE-PARIS, the artist is building The Settlement, an entirely grey monumental installation, showing a strange and peaceful village made up of about 20 houses on stilts, linked together by wood scaffolding. Boats moored to accessories (fishing nets, deadwood, rudimentary tools, fairy-lights, etc.), each element as been sculpted at full scale. The whole has been placed on an artificial lake, in front of an empty wall that invites the spectator to watch, at first from a certain distance, this imaginary scene. At once alive and immobile, it brings to mind cinematic tradition, the composite image, but also the paralysed nature of Pompei, fixed in time by volcanic ashes. Nevertheless, this village, a fictional refuge of a small imaginary community and all sorts of potential stories, seems to be contemporary and still inhabited. As always with Hans Op de Beeck, the spectator doesn’t know whether he is faced with a land that has been deserted or that is on the point of being created. Parallel to this, the artist is showing two recent films.
Op de Beeck’s film Staging Silence is based around abstract, archetypal notions that linger in the memory of the artist as the common denominator of the many similar public places artist has experienced. The video images themselves are extremely simple and banal, whilst also being serious and dark, mirroring the eclectic mix of pictures in our minds. The decision to film in black and white heightens this ambiguity: the theatre-like approach of the video alludes to the legacy of slapstick, as well as the insidious suspense and latent derailment of the film noir genre. The title refers to the staging of dormant decors where, in the absence of people, the spectator can project himself as the lone protagonist.
The installation work Lounge is a life-sized, sculpted evocation of a neo-classical hotel lounge, with a large window, a chesterfield sofa, and an enormous amount of props, ranging from books, empty soda cans, candles, ashtrays stuffed with cigarette butts, pizza boxes, beer bottles, old cell phones, laptops, discarded clothes etc. The work presents itself as a gigantic memento mori, with references to the classic symbols of the Vanitas painting tradition as well as to everyday objects that we use in (post-)modern daily life. The use of light in the work is painterly, referring to old masters such as Vermeer. The monochromatic grey scene is entirely handcrafted. The ash grey tone and the heaviness of the plaster objects make the scene extremely silent and inert.
Night Time (extended)
The animation film Night Time (extended) is a dark, enigmatic animation film without text, based on a large series of monumental monochromatic watercolours which Op de Beeck steadily made over the past five years, in between all his other multidisciplinary projects. All the watercolours were painted by the artist at night, in a state of complete solitude and concentration. This nocturnal atmosphere is a tangible presence in the metropolitan landscapes, amongst the images of nature, the buildings, interiors and characters the artist brings to life in the film. Night time (extended) is conceived as a mysterious, uncanny dream in which all proportions, perspectives and environments are fictitious, yet universal.