A major survey exhibition of Michel François at Bozar in Brussels
In Spring 2023, the Centre for Fine Arts is presenting an overview of 40 years of work by Michel François, one of Belgium's most important contemporary artists.
Using sculpture, photography, video, painting and installation, the artist creates a web of shifting connections between his artworks. The exhibition is a unique concept in which the 'total artwork' is central and the exhibition space becomes an extension of his studio.
Michel François is known for shaking up reality, questioning it, and breathing new life into its relationship with art. He transforms seemingly simple objects and materials into bearers of meaning. How can a gesture change the status of an object? What is the influence of the artist's hand? And what is the role of coincidence?
The exhibition is a unique look at 40 years of artistic practice by François, from early work to several new creations he made especially for Bozar.
Recurrent preoccupations emerge from the heart of this proliferating, surging work: living material in all its forms (insertion of plant life, representation of mineral features, human gestures, etc.), the ordering of forces (gravity, balance, resistance...) and the metaphor of imprisonment and everything that it induces (breakage, holes, escape ...). François uses an economy of means to transform seemingly uncomplicated objects and materials, or traces of past events, into deeply resonant carriers of meaning. His work can be seen as exploration of cause and effect, and the ways in which simple gestures can change the status of an object or have important consequences. A number of recent sculptural works, without immediately revealing their origins or the way they were made, invite the viewer to consider the degree to which the hand of the artist, or chance, played a role in their formation.
His exhibitions are always considered as “total” works, forming a coherent whole, made up of a myriad of autonomous elements. The specificity of the work of François lies in the extreme diversity of its materials, its forms and its scales, while simultaneously constituting a great stylistic coherence over the past 40 years.
“This coherence is mainly due to Michel François's view of the phenomenal world: an attention to the energies of the natural world as much as to human gestures, without hierarchy or category. The artist exercises his curiosity for everything related to the dynamics of the elements, in all its forms: expansion and compression, growth and decrease, piling up and scattering, petrification and liquefaction, etc. These different forces constitute what finally connects human gestures to the “natural world”. (François Piron)
16 March - 21 July 2023
BOZAR/Centre for Fine Arts
20220911_Bozar_2023 Expo Michel François ENG.pdf
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About Michel François
Michel François claims no signature style. Instead, he creates a web of shifting connections between his works and each different exhibition. His conceptual practice includes sculpture, video, photography, printed matter, painting and installation work.
The titles of his solo exhibitions often point to his interest in contemporary reality, offices, domestic environments, surveillance, psychology and the police state. To cite just a few: State of Being, Urban Placarding, Expanded Bureau, Déjà vu, Theatre of Operations and Pieces of Evidence. The meanings in his works accumulate over time and vary according to their disposition in space, or the context. In a manner similar to that of the Arte Povera artists, François uses great economy of means to transform seemingly uncomplicated objects and materials, or traces of past events, into deeply resonant carriers of meaning. His work can be seen as exploration of cause and effect, and the ways in which simple gestures can change the status of an object or have important consequences.
Michel François (b. 1956, Saint-Trond, Belgium) lives and works in Brussels. Museum exhibitions include Panopticon, Yarat Contemporary Art Centre, Baku (2022); Pièce à conviction, Middelheim Museum, Antwerp (2016); Nineteen thousand posters. 1994-2016, Mac’s Grand Hornu (2011) and Frac île- de-France (2016); Plans d’évasion, SMAK, Ghent and Iac Vileurbanne (2009-10); Salon Intermédiaire, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2002); La Plante en nous, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2000); Kunsthalle Bern (2000).
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