Michaël Borremans, "Terror Watch" (2002), Bleistift und Wasserfarbe auf Papier, 23 x 30 cm, Courtesy: Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Kupferstickkabinett
Michaël Borremans, "Terror Watch" (2002), Pencil and watercolor on paper, 23 x 30 cm, Courtesy: Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Kupferstickkabinett
Michaël Borremans, "The spirit of modelmaking" (2001), Bleistift, Wasserfarbe auf Karton, 27,4 x 30,2 cm, Courtesy: Privatsammlung
Michaël Borremans, "The spirit of modelmaking" (2001), Pencil and watercolor on cardboard, 27,4 x 30,2 cm, Courtesy: Private collection
Michaël Borremans, "The Reference" (2007), Bleistift und Wasserfarbe auf Papier, 12,5 x 9,0 cm, Courtesy: Paul und Katrien Lannoy-Mattelaer
Michaël Borremans, "The Reference" (2007), Pencil and watercolor on paper, 12,5 x 9,0 cm, Courtesy: Paul and Katrien Lannoy-Mattelaer
Michaël Borremans, "10 and 11" (2006), Öl auf Leinwand, 36 x 42 cm, Courtesy: Sammlung des Künstlers
Michaël Borremans, "10 and 11" (2006), Oil on canvas, 36 x 42 cm, Courtesy: Collection of the artist
Michaël Borremans, "The Nude" (2010), Öl auf Leinwand, 240 x 200 cm, Courtesy: Sammlung Charlotte und Bill Ford
Michaël Borremans, "The Nude" (2010), Oil on canvas, 240 x 200 cm, Courtesy: Collection Charlotte and Bill Ford
Michaël Borremans, "The Straw" (2010), Öl auf Leinwand, 60 x 40 cm, Courtesy: Privatsammlung
Michaël Borremans, "The Straw" (2010), Oil on canvas, 60 x 40 cm, Courtesy: Private collection
Michaël Borremans, "Man Looking Down at his Hand" (2007), Öl auf Leinwand, 36 x 30 cm, Courtesy: Debra
Michaël Borremans, "Man Looking Down at his Hand" (2007), Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 cm, Courtesy: Collection Debra
Michaël Borremans, "The Hood" (2007), Öl auf Leinwand, 36 x 42 cm, Courtesy: Debra
Michaël Borremans, "The Hood" (2007), Oil on canvas, 36 x 42 cm, Courtesy: Collection Debra
Michaël Borremans, "Untitled" (2008), Öl auf Leinwand, 42 x 36 cm, Courtesy: Sammlung Véronique und Hans Skeppner
Michaël Borremans, "Untitled" (2008), Oil on canvas, 42 x 36 cm, Courtesy: Collection Véronique and Hans Skeppner
Michaël Borremans, "The Case (II)" (2009), Öl auf Leinwand, 50 x 42 cm, Courtesy: Sammlung Lena und Per Josefsson
Michaël Borremans, "The Case (II)" (2009), Oil on canvas, 50 x 42 cm, Courtesy: Collection Lena and Per Josefsson
Michaël Borremans, "Pony" (2009), Öl auf Leinwand, 50 x 40 cm, Courtesy: Privatsammlung, Deutschland
Michaël Borremans, "Pony" (2009), Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm, Courtesy: Private collection, Germany
Michaël Borremans, "Taking Turns" (2009), 35mm Film transferiert auf DVD, 8:35 Min., Loop, Courtesy: Zeno X Gallery, Antwerpen; David Zwirner, New York, und Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo
Michaël Borremans, "Taking Turns" (2009), 35mm Film transferred to DVD, 8:35 Min., Loop, Courtesy: Zeno X Gallery, Antwerpen; David Zwirner, New York, and Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo
Michaël Borremans, "The Feeding" (2006), 35mm Film transferiert auf DVD, Courtesy: Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerpen; David Zwirner, New York, und Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo
Michaël Borremans, "The Feeding" (2006), 35mm Film transferred to DVD, Courtesy: Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerpen; David Zwirner, New York, and Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo

Michaël Borremans. Eating The Beard

Introduction

From February 20 to May 1, 2011 the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart is presenting a comprehensive solo exhibition with over one hundred works by Belgian artist Michaël Borremans. Alongside paintings, drawings, and filmic works from the past ten years, there will be a series of new works that are being exhibited in Germany for the first time.

The scenarios composed by Borremans in his pictures, which are frequently small-format and intimate, hark back to positions and genres from art history as well as to the pictorial languages of photography, theater, or cinema. They are teeming with contrary references and allusions that offer the viewer a multitude of possible interpretations while avoiding any manner of consolidation into a coherent whole. Realism and the fantastic the transient and the manifest, irony and disturbance are all closely interwoven within his visual worlds while simultaneously precluding one another.

In his works, Borremans traces the contradictions and conflicts of human existence: between self-assertion and dissolution, the individual and the collective, desire and angst, control and loss, the moral and the abysmal. Being shown are illusions of identity, freedom, and the controllability of the world, which the artist presents to us with its wealth of instability.

The paradoxical pictorial spaces of his drawings are permeated by contrary perspectives and proportions, by formations and deformations, reality and scenery. They show model worlds which emerge as an image within the image while being observed by giant spectators or depict people who are immersed in the acts modeling and constructing or in peculiar experiments. Museum, theater, or public spaces are negotiated as showplaces in which the positions of the observer and the observed are continually shifting, in which exhibitions, performances, or monuments are much too large to be adequately viewed by the miniscule onlookers. Again and again things end up bypassing each other. Other drawings in turn seem to reflect storyboards for films, drafts of stage design or projects for public space, addressing rather the conceivable than the realizable.

In contrast with the frequently busy scenarios found in his drawings, Borremans’ paintings all resemble still lifes, though they in fact are showing, in most cases, human figures from varying angles: isolated beings who establish a relationship neither to their pictorial surroundings nor to the viewer; body fragments or their shells; strange hybrids between people and furniture or other objects. The characters appear disengaged from all temporal or spatial contexts. At the same time, they execute gestures or actions—at times banal, meaningful, or absurd—the backgrounds and consequences of which remaining completely ambiguous. Others, in turn, allude to corpses laid out for view, appearing as objects in vitrines, their veiled faces reminiscent of death masks. Repeatedly, Borremans focuses on the body immobilized by the image, thereby referencing the foundation for the Western body image starting in Renaissance times: anatomy. In The Nude (2010), one of his recent large-format paintings, this reference is explicitly clear.

Borremans’ drawings, paintings, and filmic works are strongly interlinked, but without dealing merely with formal “translations” between the mediums, or with geneses among “draft,” “preliminary study,” and “finished work.” Instead, he probes the margins of the various mediums. In fact, his filmic works also emanate a feel of the still life, in which there seldom seems to be any activity going on—at least if we encounter them with the customary expectations of film images and filmic narration. The minimal actions of the protagonists seem to be mechanical, almost as a reference to the filmic apparatus itself, whose illusionary effects are concurrently reversed.

The exhibition is to be accompanied by a catalogue published by Hatje Cantz Verlag. Following the presentation at the Württembergischer Kunstverein, the it will travel to the Kunsthalle Budapest (Műcsarnok).

Got Lost
A piece by Helmut Lachenmann
With costumes by Michaël Borremans
Staatsoper Stuttgart (zeitoper spezial) in cooperation with the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart
Venue: Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart

Michaël Borremans work is posited between mediums in visual arts and neighboring disciplines. Against this backdrop, his exhibition in Stuttgart has lent an occasion for unique collaboration between Borremans and composer Helmut Lachenmann, having come to fruition thanks to the initiative of Xavier Zuber, head dramaturge at the Staatsoper Stuttgart. Three evenings will see a special performance of Lachenmann’s piece ...got lost.... This event will not only be taking place in the exhibition and in dialogue with works by Borremans; the artist has also designed the costumes for the performance.

Premiere: February 20, 2011, 8 p.m.
Additional showings: February 23 and 26, 2011, at 8 p.m. respectively

Short biography
Michaël Borremans was born 1963 in Geraardsbergen (Belgium). He lives and works in Gent.

Solo exhibitions (selection)
2010 Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp; 2009 Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover; David Zwirner Gallery, New York; 2008 Centro de Artes Visuais, Coimbra; 2007 De Appel, Amsterdam, 2006 David Zwirner Gallery, New York; 2005 The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; S.M.A.K., Gent; 2004 Museum Für Gegenwartskunst, Basel; 2003 David Zwirner Gallery, New York; 2002 Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

Group exhibitions (selection)
2010 Cornerhouse, Manchester; Marta, Herford; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Center of Contemporary Art, Vilnius; 2009 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Fruitmarket, Edinburgh; Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Palazzo Grassi, Venice; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; 2008 Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MOCA, Los Angeles; 2007 Palazzo Fortuny, Venice; Hauser & Wirth, London; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; 2006 Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart; 4. Berlin Biennale für zeitgenössische Kunst; 2005 MOMA, New York; 2004 Manifesta 5, San Sebastian; 2003 Austin Museum of Art, Austin

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Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart