CARLA AROCHA & STEPHANE SCHRAENEN ‘Marauding in Molenbeek’
NICOLAS KOZAKIS ‘Ferrari Rosso Berlinetta Perl 266154’
OPENING on Tuesday September 5, 2017 from 6 to 9 PM
on view until September 30, 2017
We are pleased to present Marauding in Molenbeek, the first solo exhibition by Carla Arocha (°1961, Caracas) & Stéphane Schraenen (°1971, Antwerp) at the gallery.
The work exhibited, Marauding in Molenbeek (2017) is the latest addition to an ongoing series that began in 2006 titled Chicago Marauders. Marauding refers to the artists practice of constantly being on the lookout for subjects of interest. These works for the most part consist of reflective materials such as mirror Plexiglass.
The mirroring surface reflects its still surroundings but it also serves as an animator of the space as the viewer passes often stopping at a point of interest or wonder. The parts that make up the various works belonging to this ongoing series vary from work to work not on a specific manner in relation to the location but according to the interest of the artists as they push the works of this series slowly to its limit. For this occasion the artists are introducing surveillance / two way mirror components, further complicating the viewers experience of the work.
The art of Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen evokes many relationships with preceding movements in art. Almost all of these associations relate to the umbrella of Modernism and the gradated ontology of its progeny later in the twentieth century; it evokes the formal qualities of Minimalism as much as the optical illusions of Op Art.
And yet, it is actually neither. It is not what it is and it is not what it seems. Hidden beneath the outward layers of immediate similarity is a practice that, while never denying what it admires about or has learned from these movements, remains fundamentally post-modernist; post-modern not as a visual facsimile of the received vernacular from the 1980’s, but in terms of the oft-misunderstood philosophies and bodies of theory accurately associated with the term.
Their focus is less on objects as manifest things and more with the perception of things as objects. Ultimately, their installation sculptures are flat, composed of many small components but they can be perceived a monumental and emphatic. This overt presence of the formal and conceptual in Arocha – Schraenen’s work can be deceptive. Everywhere within works – whether bluntly opaque or deceptively transparent – we encounter the narrative.
Theirs is a practice full of implied stories, flickers of meaning or potentially autobiographical fragments. It is cinematic without initially appearing so. It is the accumulation of precisely placed ideas into a locus in which the narrative experience of the sentient organism is never underestimated. The formal aspects of the work rely strongly on the conscious experience of sensory perception and its gradual shifts: the audience lives through a narrative in seeing other narratives present.
Their work evidences a certain preoccupation with setting up an experience in which the viewer must inevitably vacillate between the experience of subjectively and imaginatively trying to decipher potential narrative meaning and the experiences of numerous elements that act as a kind of alienation device, constantly pulling the viewer back to a conscious awareness of its construction. And, perhaps, this tension between the narrative and the formal is particularly evident in more recent works.
In deciphering if and how meanings exist between the works that constitute the whole of an exhibition by Arocha – Schraenen, we are always forced to confront a certain literal and metaphorical opacity. And yet, in the shimmers of human narrative that cannot be hidden, no matter how disciplined the formal aspects, the audience is drawn through kind of experiential parcours in which it too may become ghostly actors within it, its reflections unable to elude certain surfaces.
Beauty here is something that involves complex systems and relationships between smaller elements. The recognition of exactly how an image has been made -and the use of smaller building blocks to make it- refracts our attention to consider how the aesthetic values embedded in visual languages cannot exist without certain biological and emotional human responses. In the hands of the artists, the original objects are transformed and reconsidered. But it is the perception of the viewer, drawing on biological and social systems, that completes its transformation into an artwork. No longer neutral, their works speak of anatomy, art history, lives lived, resonant popular narratives and beauty.
The photographic works Sun and Moon are two works from 2007. Both represent moved images of light. These images are printed behind glass and backed by a mirror. Both works being polyptych they work on a cinematic level, a sequence rather than a narrative. As Stan Brackage scratched on the celluloid, the artists procured the ‘scratch’ by erratically moving the camera while taking the picture.
Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen live and work in Antwerp. In addition to a range of solo shows in international galleries, Carla Arocha & Stéphane Schraenen have shown work in exhibitions at Cultureel Centrum, Mechelen; Hessenhuis, Antwerp; ISELP, Elsene; CAB, Burgos; Petra, Mexico City and Lieu d’Art Contemporain, Sigean. They were commissioned to make a public work for Howard Station, Chicago and participated at Biennale of Brussels.Their work is also included in ‘The State of Things’ curated by Fan Di’an, Ai Wei Wei & Luc Tuymans at Bozar, Brussels and Bejing.
We are pleased to present Ferrari Rosso Berlinetta Perl 266154, Nicolas Kozakis’s (°1967, Liège) second solo exhibition at our gallery.
The multilayered oeuvre of Nicolas Kozakis (°1967, Liège) is filled with a deep-rooted poetry: with his sensitive soul, he captures the simple, ‘beautiful’ things that he encounters in his immediate surroundings.
Here, he exhibits sanitised artworks that contain elements of both painting and sculpture: the wall-mounted objects are somewhere between a ‘flat’, two-dimensional painting on the one hand, and a sculpture that is becoming detached from the wall on the other.
In one of his latest series, Kozakis explores the boundaries between the two art forms, defined by art history as opposites and competitors. Within this context, he draws his inspiration for both form and content from the tradition of icons. For many centuries, holy figures were depicted in Eastern Orthodox Catholic cultures in this singular form: pure and uniform, with their familiar gold-brown, red and blue hues and gold leaf. In this context, the icon is a representation of the deity, not a literal effigy, and acts as a medium for contemplation. Kozakis abstracts these vital details in a contemporary way by resolutely opting for one specific colour: a monochrome.
The works have titles like ‘Ferrari Rossi Berlinetta Perl 266154’ and ‘Porsche 25H Libelltuerkis Met’ – technical descriptions that directly allude to colour codes that he borrows from luxury cars. Kozakis employs a bodywork specialist to apply these colour shades to the supports in UV-resistant enamel paint, and then finish them with a perfect looking, glossy layer of varnish. The painted medium is usually wood, but is sometimes marble, which he orders from a manufacturer of authentic icons.
The radical absence of figurative elements encourages reflection on the meaning and role of the image. The Western viewer – hardened and oversaturated with mass media on a daily basis – is looking for something to hold on to, some kind of recognition, but fails to find it. In literary sources, icons are frequently described as “windows on eternity”, and Kozakis’ monochromes also function as a kind of two-way mirror. The works lie somewhere in between the artist and the viewer, and bring about a reciprocal projection: what lies behind the artist’s gaze, and what drives us to look in this way? The monochrome surface does not furnish us with an answer, but merely reflects the echoes of these musings.
The artist attempts to shake his viewers out of their lethargy by paradoxically juxtaposing the decadence of luxury cars with the purity of the icon tradition. Contemporary society appears only to function on the basis of the constant, insatiable consumption of useless goods. In this series of monochromes, and indeed in his entire oeuvre, Kozakis’ goal is to offer an antidote: a contemporary view of our centuries-old history that is bursting with extraordinary stories, noble values and pure beauty.
Nicolas Kozakis is a painter and sculptor with a special interest in architecture and public space. His work consists of installations as well as videos and photography that question – through the contradictory combination of materials, symbols, images and words – the conflicts of our existence. Interested in topics such as consumerism and memory, Kozakis’s work sets out to trigger increased vigilance of our visual and conceptual perception, which he hopes allows for a reassessment of our relationship to the world.
Since 2012, Nicolas Kozakis and Raoul Vaneigem have been collaborating on a series of films where the contemplative flow of black and white video footage by artist Nicolas Kozakis is overlaid with texts by philosopher and writer Raoul Vaneigem, together forming a plea, at once poetic and political, to pause and rethink the world away from its present impasses. The striking imagery originates in stunning but also mundane landscapes in Greece, while the texts talk about the impasses and challenges humanity is now facing: from the effects of aggressive capitalism and rising economic and social inequality to environmental issues and existential concerns relating to contemporary anxieties. Together, the films reveal the need to circumvent the limitations of our frenetic everyday lives by slowing down and rediscovering the more humane constellation of being together.
Kozakis’s solo and group exhibitions include:
‘Summer of love’, Schwarz Foundation, Samos (GR); Wiels (video screening), Brussels; Kusseneers Gallery, Brussels; MUSEUM = K (x+y)/D, IKOB – Museum für Zeitgenössische Kunst – Eupen (2016); MAM Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art, Vienna (2015); Jardiniers Terrestres Jardiniers Célestes, VII Biennale Internationale d’Art Contemporain de Melle, France (2015); Les Mains Libres – Espace 251 Nord, Liège (2015); Un Moment d’Éternité dans le Passage du Temps, La Terrasse espace d’art de Nanterre, France (2014); An Exhibition on Withdrawing, Escaping and Dropping Out, Bureau Publik, Copenhagen (2014); No Country for Young Men, Palais Des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2014); Unstuck In Time, Te Tuhi, Auckland (2014); and More Light, Fifth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2013).
– ‘Summer of love’, Schwarz Foundation, Pythagorion Art Space, Samos, Greece – curated by Katerina Gregos (until Oct. 15, 2017)
– ‘Art Public Charleroi’, 15 oeuvres dans la ville basse de Charleroi (until Nov. 2, 2017)
– ‘La leçon d’anatomie‘ at the Museum ‘La Boverie’, Liège (until Sept. 17, 2017)