Backstage: An exhibition about the rear side of artworks at Sofie Van de Velde Gallery
This exceptional exhibition focuses on the backside of artworks. The only painting in the world that has two reverse sides was painted by Cornelius Norbertus Gijsbrechts in 1670. Born in Antwerp, but whose year of birth and death are unknown, the artist was a brilliant painter of still lifes, who mastered the art of painting illusions perfectly. The 17th-century trompe-l’oeil was produced for fun – we can imagine how Gijsbrechts’ reverse-side painting leaned against a wall in a gallery and how, puzzled, a curious art enthusiast could not help but turn it around the other way, only to be confronted once again with a reverse side. This painting is now presented at Sofie Van de Velde Gallery, amongst the work of 8 contemporary artists working around the theme of the rear side of artworks.
In the context of theater, we use the word ‘backstage’ to describe what happens behind the stage. It is here – hidden from public view – that we find the technical equipment that enables the play to take place on the stage. These are the non-aesthetic conditions for work. On the stage we have the entrancing diva, backstage the untidy dressing table, etc. The Centre Pompidou has no façade, no front side. You look directly into the insides of Renzo Piano’s building: pipes, cables, bracing. What you see is not the mask that traditionally fronts a building, but rather what it normally hides, namely the structure. In front – the brilliant product, behind – the conditions and traces of work: with pictures the stretchers, the frame, the mounting, stickers, information on the exhibition venues – the rear, which Antwerp-born Cornelius Gijsbrechts painted as a still life as early as 1670.
For this exhibition, Rob Scholte uses embroidered pictures he found at flea markets, fashioned by Dutch housewives using patterns (Vermeer, Rembrandt and others). He turns them over, signs the back and exhibits them. What people now see are the threads hanging out, which close up look like undefined patches of color, but from a certain distance reveal the picture – as in an Impressionist painting. Charlotte Posenenske’s Diagonal Folding reveals the hanging used on the rear. Unlike traditional sculpture, the stereometric hollow bodies provide a view of the interior. Cécile Dupaquier folds part of the rear forwards. Similarly, Michael Reiter’s objects reveal both the front and rear sides at the same time, as does the large blue floor piece by Kirstin Arndt. It recalls the Mobius strip, where the front becomes the rear and vice versa. Franziska Reinbothe addresses the conditions of the front: frame, canvas, mounting. In this manner the rear side becomes part of the front side. Gerwald Rockenschaub’s work shows the large screw with which it is attached to the wall, unashamedly in the middle of the front. In Martina Wolf’s video work the cardboard lid of a fast-food container suspended on a thread from a window handle turns in such a manner that sometimes its shimmering aluminum coating is visible, on which the space behind the camera appears vaguely, and sometimes its dull rear side. All the exhibited works follow in the tradition of enlightenment, in as far as they reveal what is otherwise hidden – the opposite of Mannerist enigma.
"BACKSTAGE: die Rückseite - the rear side"
07.09.2017 → 15.10.2017
Galley Sofie Van de Velde - Nieuw Zuid
Cornelius Norbertus Gijsbrechts
CURATOR: Burkhard Brunn, Frankfurt am Main
OPENING: Thursday, September 7th, 19.00 –22.00
FINISSAGE: Sunday, October 15th, 14.00 –18.00