Koen Vanmechelen lands in Knokke-Heist with the major exhibition Cosmopolitan Renaissance

From 29 October 2022, Koen Vanmechelen (°1965, Sint-Truiden) will be omnipresent in Knokke-Heist and in Cultuurcentrum Scharpoord with a major exhibition.

Koen Vanmechelen is a groundbreaking, conceptual artist of international renown who has already exhibited in the Gallerie degli Uffizi (Firenze), The National Gallery (London), and at the Venice Biennale. Since the 1990s, he has been fusing art, philosophy, nature, knowledge and science, reaching out to anyone and anything that can help him break down boundaries in his journey in search of new answers. He is best known for his global ‘Cosmopolitan Chicken Project’ (CCP), in which he crosses national breeds into ‘cosmopolitan chickens’. He is also the founder of the evolving artwork/park LABIOMISTA in Genk.

In Knokke-Heist, Vanmechelen presents Cosmopolitan Renaissance, an out-of-the-box exhibition that unfolds as a total experience. Besides drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations and videos in the upper and lower hall of Cultuurcentrum Scharpoord, the show also includes performances, outdoor installations, lectures and crossovers with MAAK – Open House for the Arts, and the Zwin Natural Park.

In collaboration with the curator and art historian Jo Coucke, various aspects of Vanmechelen’s multi-layered work will be highlighted. Visitors to Vanmechelen’s multiverse will land, as it were, from one reality into another. Each time, it is about the relationship between humans and animals, about spirituality, identity, cultures, hybridity, and human and animal rights. Fundamentally, his work revolves around the love of life. Life that is under pressure. From new ideas, fusions and connections, and by exploring new borders, a cosmopolitan renaissance can arise, Vanmechelen argues, with an unmistakable nod to the historical Renaissance.

If the man of the present Anthropocene era, who currently weighs far too heavily on the world, is to survive together with that world and nature, he urgently needs a global rebirth. For this, we humans may feel free to look back to the past – to the attitude of the Uomo Universale of the Renaissance of the sixteenth century, for example, who linked knowledge with imagination – because the future depends on what we do or do not remember from the past.” 
— Koen Vanmechelen

Since the very beginning of his artistry, Vanmechelen has been dealing with the question of the future of our species: How should humans move forward? How can we as humans coexist sustainably with other species while respecting the environment of even the smallest creatures? Over the past 30 years, Vanmechelen has travelled around the world. Whether among indigenous peoples like the Masai, or up high in the skyscrapers of Mumbai, Vanmechelen has searched for the constituent pieces of his world puzzle. The Cosmopolitan Renaissance exhibition shows those pieces and inspires answers. Again and again, Vanmechelen has taken various basic ingredients from his artistic universe and combined them into new stories.

Koen Vanmechelen sees in art the unique, ideal means to create new stories of connection – ​ connections between people, and between people and the world. Because the relationship between global man and his biotope needs to be constantly fine-tuned in order to find a liveable and sustainable balance for everything and everyone, Koen Vanmechelen creates an art which consciously challenges the old artistic and cultural codes. He is an exemplary artist of and for our time and world. ​ ​ ​
– Jo Coucke

Practical information

Koen Vanmechelen
Cosmopolitan Renaissance
29 October 2022 - 15 January 2023
Cultuurcentrum Scharpoord, Knokke-Heist
Curator: Jo Coucke

Press conference: 26 October, 11am

Please confirm your attendance via micha@clubparadis.be

The Walking Egg

With the installation back in May of Koen Vanmechelen’s iconic sculpture The Walking Egg in front of the Cultuurcentrum Scharpoord, the Knokke-Heist city council gave an early announcement for the exhibition Koen Vanmechelen – Cosmopolitan Renaissance. The Walking Egg, a marble sculpture of an egg on legs, symbolises Vanmechelen’s continuous search for the right places and the best moments to hatch his evolving vision of the world and its future. The exhibition Cosmopolitan Renaissance shows the result. This time, Knokke-Heist is the incubator.

Art in Knokke-Heist

Knokke-Heist has always held a special attraction for artists, architects, sculptors and painters. The municipality is therefore honoured that Koen Vanmechelen has chosen the seaside resort as his next stop following his hotly publicised accomplishments in Florence. With more than 80 galleries, top-tier art in public spaces and the Cultural Centre Scharpoord as a base for exhibitions by internationally renowned artists, Knokke-Heist is the perfect holiday destination for any art lover.

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