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Michaël Borremans: Fire from the Sun (Spotlight)

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The exhibition traveled later in the year to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, followed by the Dallas Museum of Art in 2015.

They are untethered, directionless, forever waiting in a non-place, forever forced to repeat pointless actions that seem to have no beginning or no end. From the outset the artist understood he was taking a risk with the new works, precisely because of their open relationship with interpretation. That the painting had had an unintended and instinctive meaning signalled that “I had made a good work”, Borremans said. I heard other interpretations while there, and so did the artist: that the paintings examine the loss of innocence, that they are a caricature of original sin, that they meditate on hypocrisy, that they demonstrate human capacity to be at once good and evil.The opening of the Hong Kong space marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of David Zwirner gallery as it increases its international presence beyond New York and London. The art of Michaël Borremans seems always to have been predicated on a confluence of enigma, ambiguity, and painterly poetics―accosting beauty with strangeness; making historic Romanticism subjugate to mysterious controlling forces that are neither crudely malevolent nor necessarily benign. Published on the occasion of Borremans’s eponymous exhibition at David Zwirner in Hong Kong, this publication is available in both English-only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions. He was co-curator of The Secret Public: The Last Days of the British Underground 1978–1988 at Kunstverein Muenchen and The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London in 2006 and The Dark Monarch: British Modernism and the Occult at Tate St Ives in 2009. Other venues which have hosted solo exhibitions include the kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2009); de Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam (2007); Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.

Some of Borremans' paintings, such as Automat (I) (2008), feature figures with truncated torsos or dismembered limbs, further suggesting that these are figures trapped by a pervading sense of futility. To finish on a lighter note, David Zwirner’s first outpost in Asia will located in H Queen’s, the new tower in Hong Kong’s Central district. Most recently, Michaël Borremans: Fixture, was presented at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga in 2015-2016. Each title in the Spotlight Series from David Zwirner Books features new work by a leading contemporary artist.Reminiscent of cherubs in Renaissance paintings, the toddlers appear as allegories of the human condition, their archetypal innocence contrasted with their suggested deviousness.

While the fire and (probable) cannibalism imply some sort of ritual, the works are most chilling as sketches of random violence, causal and instinctual. Most recently, Michaël Borremans: Fixture, was presented at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga in 2015–2016.It is difficult to concentrate on the weight of the artist’s brushstrokes when such a scene is staring you in the face. His paintings depict figures sometimes incomplete with limbs or heads missing, frozen mid gesture, seemingly swaying or dancing to unheard music or engaging in some sinister ritual. The paintings live in the seductive space of metaphor and possibility, which can stretch beyond the artist’s intentions.

As Bracewell further notes on these works, they portray psychological states that are not intended to be decoded: “the scenes depicted by the majority of paintings comprising Fire from the Sun show a state of being or society in which the primal is uncontrolled, without bearings, in a state of anarchy―the Id of Freudian primary process run riot, with no Ego to mediate between instinctual behavior and ‘reality. As unsettling punctuation marks Borremans also included two large paintings of industrial apparatuses. In his accompanying essay, critic and curator Michael Bracewell takes an in-depth look into specific paintings, tackling both the highly charged subject matter and the masterly command of the medium. Seven years ago in his studio in Belgium, Michaël Borremans told me about the response to his painting Red Hand, Green Hand at an opening in Budapest. There is an atmosphere of brewing tension and anxiety with an undertow of horror tugging away beneath the surface in his paintings: with his paintbrush Borremans brings to life a cargo of existentialism.

These ghostly figments remind us of the artist’s hand (another detached extremity) and its control over what we see and what we don’t.

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