Hans Op de Beeck

17 Jan - 29 Mar 2009

© Hans Op de Beeck
Location (6), 2008
sculptural installation, mixed media
18 m diameter x 4 m height
"Staging Silence"

17/01/2009 - 29/03/2009

GALLERIACONTINUA / Beijing – opening January 17, 2009

First solo show in China

The multi-disciplinary oeuvre of the Belgian visual artist Hans Op de Beeck (b. 1969) consists of large-scale sculptural installations, videos, animated films, sculptures, drawings, photographs, short stories and stage designs. Much of his work is based upon the ideas of detachment and loss of self for human beings in these post-modern times.
The artist conceives and builds contemporary fictional urban and domestic locations and situations, sometimes featuring human characters that feel very familiar to viewers. His settings include both secluded spots suitable for inner reflection and crowded areas populated by characters who, at times, appear to be inept. His work sheds light on our own present-day lives, dreams and ambitions, and our perceptions of time, space and each other. Hans Op de Beeck’s visual language is hushed and reserved. Serious and ironic by turns, he asks questions that remain unanswered.

For his first solo exhibition in China, Hans Op de Beeck is presenting a large three-dimensional installation, a new animated film and a new series of black-and-white watercolours. The artist has given the exhibition the title of ‘Staging Silence’, because all of the works are a reference to the staged image, which invites silence and reflection. He also wishes to comment upon the ineptitude and insignificance of human beings in relation to our own mortality and the magnificence and endlessness of nature.

‘Location (6)’ is a monumental sculptural installation, based on the historic panorama constructions created, particularly over the past two centuries in Europe, to suggest an endless landscape completely surrounding the viewer.
Traditional panoramas combine a three-dimensional foreground with a painted background. ‘Location (6)’, however, is made up entirely of a sculpted trompe l’oeil landscape, with artificial fog and light. The spectator can view the landscape from a central observatory that is reached via a long, narrow corridor. From a seated position, the visitor looks at the scene through the panoramic window, a vast snowy expanse with bare trees. The landscape, the observatory, and its interior are all white.
In contrast to earlier forms of panoramic constructions, ‘Location (6)’ does not aim to entertain or to inform. Instead, the artist uses the infinity of the perspective as a means of drawing the viewer’s eye inward, to the contemplative self.
For this exhibition, Hans Op de Beeck has also created a new animated film, using black-and-white watercolours based on photographs taken from the Internet and images from documentaries and educational videos. In terms of content, ‘Extensions’ deals with cultural and subcultural rituals, science and technology as extensions of the human body, and as the physical manifestation of an unfailing belief in progress, which is both redemptive and ethically problematic.
Op de Beeck is furthermore presenting ‘Constructions’, his new series of black-and-white watercolours, pictures in large and small formats. Besides a variety of Romantic archetypes of infinity and transience, including watercolours of a ruin, a post-war landscape, a view of the sea at night and an idyllic mountain scene, the series also features contemporary, architectural sites for meditation, such as the sterile departure lounge of an airport. These impersonal places of transit in modern life are perfect sites for letting go of our activity and our identity and becoming passive observers of life rather than participants.

The work of Hans Op de Beeck has been shown at numerous venues, including Reina Sofia (Madrid), Tate Modern (London), SMoCA (Arizona), Towada Art Center (Towada), ZKM (Karlsruhe), SMAK (Ghent), MACRO Future (Rome), The Drawing Center (New York), the 6th Shanghai Biennale (Shanghai), Kunstverein Hannover (Hannover), Whitechapel Art Gallery (London), P.S.1 (New York), MARTa (Herford), MuHKA (Antwerp) and the Singapore Biennale 2008. In 2009, new projects will be presented in Venice, Paris, Madrid, Singapore, Shanghai and Berlin.

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