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Joris Van de Moortel's wit and poetry in Brussels

— September 2013

Associated media

Joris Van de Moortel, The Rehearsal act #1, Wall sculpture, 200 x 100 x 6 cm, 2013.

The Nathalie Obadia Gallery is presenting the work of Joris Van de Moortel in his first solo show in Brussels.

The artist was born in Ghent in 1983, and graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp in 2012, and he works and lives in Antwerp. After being a resident at the HISK (Higher Institute of Fine Arts) in Ghent in 2008–9, and then at the Künstelerhaus Bethanien in Berlin in 2012–13, Joris Van de Moortel will have total freedom to take over the entire space of the Nathalie Obadia Gallery in Brussels, as he has already done in the BKSM i.s.m. SMAK in Strombeek (2013), and the Centraal Museum in Utrecht (2012).

Painter, sculptor, performer and musician, Joris Van de Moortel will use the post-industrial architecture of the gallery to encompass his many-shaped work that is transformed to set off the space exhibiting it. A good example of this adaptation is his Cylinder, first inaugurated at the Transpalette in 2012 (Contemporary Art Centre in Bourges), and then moved to Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, in 2013.

Vertical or horizontal in keeping with the available height, this aluminium cylinder takes over the premises and the viewers invited on the inaugural day attend an explosive musical performance that uses the artwork as a sound box. The artist-musician sets up his mobile, short-lived concert hall in the exhibit, where the unplugged instruments are left on the spot with all the features of a ‘trash’ performance (projection of paintings, slashed aluminium partitions, broken glass, scattered cables and equipment, etc.).

As Christine Ollier pointed out in 2012, reminiscent of Mike Kelley’s provocation or the punk nihilism  of Steven Parrino, who smashed how own paintings with a sledge hammer, Joris Van de Moortel is happy to leave the trappings of his creative process. But, while the content of Joris’ installations may be both radical and iconoclast, his works do not have Steven Parrino’s 'feeling of disenchantment'.

Their misuse and their humour enact ‘a poetic reversal recalling the wit of Marcel Duchamp or Marcel Broo­dthaers’. In fact, the artist unwittingly paid homage to Duchamp in 2008 with the installation of the Grand verre, Zelfs, which made a sensation during the Volta Basel at the Hoet Bekaert Gallery.

What Joris Van de Moortel’s performances destroy, his installations reconstruct, by means of his inimitable reversal process. His artwork takes on its sculptural form only after completing this much improvised pro­cess.

In 2012, the artists began adding video and projections of images to his works. At this time, we cannot give a detailed description of what he is going to do, since uncertainty is an integral part of his artistic approach. For the moment, only one thing is certain, Joris van de Moortel’s works that will be imagined on site, will occupy the three floors of the Nathalie Obadia Gallery in Brussels, using the voids and shapes of the surrounding architecture. The central scheme will incorporate the hanging system developed for Out of Balance, a work designed in 2012 for the BKSM in Strombeek.

To defy gravity, a cable will maintain the installation in weightlessness. The sensation is one of a precarious balance illustrating the constant tension between order and chaos that personifies his work, both plastic and musical. The feeling of instability cast by his installations is the vector of their meaning and the basis of the emotion they create

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