The Remarkable Lightness of Being

13.11.2014 – 10.01.2015

Unbearable for some, the lightness of being might rather be said to be remarkable at Aeroplastics, which for years has with quirky humour cultivated a taste for the strange. The Remarkable Lightness of Being proposes, through a selection of 36 artists from Belgium and abroad, a look at current practices inherited from surrealism in its broadest sense – not the dogmatic current theorized by Breton, but rather that of Magritte and his followers, in Belgium or elsewhere – without forgetting the distant but strong reminiscences of Dada.

Dadaïsts and surrealists shared a common passion for the art of the collage, visual or literary, that one so much finds with Marcel Mariën or André Stas. Like the latter, Nancy Fouts likes juggling with words and images: in The Trip, the unfurled sails of a model boat are figured by two (false) joints. One finds other examples with Christopher Coppers, who renders homage to the Dada emblem par excellence (La Joconde of Duchamp), and renews the collage genre by adding a technological component (inclusion of small iPods). The object-sculptures of Laurent Perbos and Tom Dale evoke poetic puzzles, but the video Shooting Through by Dale, at once aggressive and funny, recalls the violence underlying the Dada spirit. The warrior metaphor is found back in the fragile munitions in ceramic by Cathy Coëz, the Armements contemporains composed from dead flies by Jean-Marie Gheerardijn, the Kalashnikov in bronze from Robert Kunec, the delicate watercolours depicting nuclear apocalypses from Gavin Turk, and the video of an aerial performance (in all senses of the term) by Maria Marshall.

With David Kramer, the mental shift comes from the juxtaposition of an image and a text that have no obvious connection with each other, though one can’t keep from trying to find one – a concept equally developed, but with visuals of a different nature, by Filip Markiewicz. For his part, Daniele Buetti articulates his compositions via laconic written exchanges that seem to have been gleaned from the internet, a reference to the omnipresence of networks in our lives, something also evoked by Amani Bodo. Till Rabus and Wolfe von Lenkiewicz both turn to art history, the first with an evocation of Arcimboldo (firmly anchored in our age when fruits and vegetables have the tendency to desert the list of ‘in’ foods), the second by revisiting in his own way Breugel the Elder’s The Hunters in the Snow. The brothers Chapman go further still, producing a monstrous 19th century-like portrait more true than nature.

Tobias Sternberg describes himself as impassioned by collage, and even his transformed objects participate with a will to show the real differently – something we also find with Tracey Snelling, who confronts realism from her miniature buildings to her found objects. The fragile assemblages and anthropomorphic sculptures of Laurent Pernot, Sylvie Ronflette and Carolein Smit evoke vanities, while Messieurs Delmotte fear not to meddle with original sin in the incarnation of legendary rock stars (for reasons which touch more on their makeup than their music). Frances Goodman, as well, is interested in artifice: after having made sculptures from false nails, she conceives a series of compositions based on false eyelashes. To these objects supposedly incarnating the quest for feminine beauty, Sarah Lucas opposes a different stereotype: a naked man with erect penis is replaced by a beer. And while the embroidered Tambours apotropaïques from Art Orienté Objet attempt to conjure up the threat posed by moneyed interests in terms of global warming and its effects on animal species, sexual tourism shows no fade in ever-hotter tropics, as testified to in the paintings of Geraldine Swayne.

Dennis Scholl and Eric Yahnker, both excellent in the practice of drawing, here turn this classical technique to produce dreamlike compositions in the case of the former, ones offbeat and humorous for the latter. As for John Isaacs, his sculptures attain such a degree of realism that one begins to doubt their fictive nature. For his part, MK Kaehne (who has already collaborated with Isaacs in the past) produces a series of elements in suitcases, like this installation of pole dancing that appears perfectly functional (and no doubt is). Where is the ‘true’, where is the ‘false’? We even come to doubt History itself, in view of God Save Me from Robert Gligorov

All these works testify to the vitality of our inheritance from Dada and surrealism, and the manner by which today’s artists have found a way to reinterpret it with originality – proof that contemporary art may not be reduced to the neo-conceptual current, as is so often seen to be the case.

P-Y Desaive