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Belgian artists' works in focus

By Zhang Kun in Shanghai | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-11-01 08:07

A new exhibition at Tank Shanghai presents a panoramic view of the contemporary art scene in Belgium.

Convex/Concave: Belgian Contemporary Art is the largest such showcase in China of Belgian art, featuring more than 50 works by 15 artists that include paintings, sculptures, videos and installations. Part of the China Shanghai International Arts Festival, the exhibition started on Thursday and will run through Jan 12.

According to Dirk Snauwaert, the curator for the exhibition who is also the director of Wiels, an institution for contemporary art in Europe, the showcase features a mix of emerging and internationally acclaimed artists.

Wiels made its foray into China in 2013 when it introduced a group of Belgian collectors to China's contemporary art scene.

During the news conference for the exhibition held prior to its opening, Snauwaert explained that the title of the exhibition "symbolizes the multiple exchanges and interrelations of subjectivity".

The exhibition was born out of the passion for the cultures and art of China and Belgium that Wiels and Tank Shanghai share, says Qiao Zhibing, founder of Tank Shanghai, a new art center and non-profit institution repurposed from five gigantic oil tanks on the West Bund area along the Huangpu River.

Belgian artists' works in focus

Since its opening in March, Tank Shanghai has received 300,000 visitors and been recognized as a new cultural landmark in the city.

"Belgium is internationally acclaimed for its many eminent artists and their creations. We are proud to present a national-level exhibition such as this and hope to build a broader connection with the art world," says Qiao.

"The selection of works is based on the creative model of Belgian artists, who through their insights transform people's inner world and broaden their outer world. The convex-concave dualism represents the binary relationship between the inner and the outer, activity and passivity, self-acceptance and reconciliation with others."

Thomas Lerooy is one of three artists attending the exhibition. The sculptor who used to work with large-scale monumental pieces once broke his leg and was temporarily confined to the wheelchair. It was during this period in 2017 that he turned to working with smaller elements and created a new series.

These works, titled Fairplay, Goal or Play with Me, "sarcastically evoke the innocence of children's games", says Charlotte Friling, assistant curator of the exhibition.

"Each of these sculptures combine balls in some state of deflation with birds that are either trapped or dead. The contrast between playfulness and the pathos is imbued with a dose of Belgian surrealism, and propels the work into the dark world created by the artist," she says.

(China Daily Global 11/01/2019 page16)

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