Artiste-professeur invité


Hans Op De Beeck

Born in 1969 in Turnhout (Belgium)

After he left the Rijksakademie (Amsterdam) in 1999, Hans Op de Beeck won the Prix Jeune Peinture Belge in 2001 and worked in residence at MoMA and P.S.1 in New York between 2002 and 2003. In 2006 he was given the Eugène Baie 2003-2005 Award and earlier this year he received the Catholic University of Leuven Culture Prize 2009-2010.

Hans Op de Beeck has taken part in numerous international solo and group exhibitions. His work has been shown in galleries, museums and biennales that include the Reina Sofia (Madrid), the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (Arizona), the ZKM (Karlsruhe), the Kunstverein(Hannover), the Whitechapel Art Gallery (London), the S.M.A.K. (Ghent), P.S.1 (New York), the Shanghai Biennale 2006 and the Singapore Biennale 2008.

Recent one-person exhibitions include: In Silent Conversation with Correggio at Galleria Borghese, Rome (2009); Staging Silence at Galleria Continua, Beijing (2009); Location (6), an installation presented as part of the Holland Festival, Amsterdam (2008); and the travelling show Extensions at the Treasury of St. Peter, Leuven and at the Centraal Museum, Utrecht (2007).

The work of Hans Op de Beeck consists of sculptures, installations, video work, photography, animated films, drawings, paintings and writing (short stories). It is his quest for the most effective way of presenting the concrete contents of each work that determines the medium that the artist ultimately selects. The scale can vary from the size of a small watercolour to a large, three-dimensional installation of 300m^2^.

The artist not only uses a very wide variety of media, but also deliberately employs a diversity of aesthetic forms, ranging from an economical, minimalist visual language to overloaded, exaggerated designs, always with the aim of articulating the content of the work as precisely as possible.

Thematically, the work concentrates on our laborious and problematic relationship with time, space and each other. Op de Beeck shows the viewer non-existent, but identifiable places, moments and characters that appear to have been taken from contemporary everyday life, aiming thereby to capture in his images the tragicomic absurdity of our postmodern existence. Key themes are the disappearance of distances, the disembodiment of the individual and the abstraction of time that have resulted from globalisation and the changes to our living environment that developments in media, automation and technology have brought about.

Hans Op de Beeck sometimes calls his works "proposals"; they are irrefutably fictional, constructed and staged, leaving it up to the viewer whether to take the work seriously, as a sort of parallel reality, or immediately to put it into perspective, as no more than a visual construct. His work is nourished by a keen interest in social and cultural reflection. The artist also questions the difficult relationship between reality and representation, between what we see and what we want to believe, between what is and what we create for ourselves in order to make it easier to deal with our own insignificance and lack of identity. The visual output of that investigation often produces slumbering, insidious, melancholy and astonishing images.

During his stay at Le Fresnoy, Hans Op de Beeck will work on a new, ambitious video, which will be part of the travelling solo exhibition 'Sea of Tranquillity', starting in the Fall of 2010 (Le Grand Café, Saint-Nazaire (FR); argos, Brussels (BE); CAB, Burgos (ES); Kunstmuseum Thun (CH)). The exhibition is based around a fictitious cruise liner, which is an interesting and appropriate metaphor for our post-modern attitude to time and space, our interpretation of the concepts of work and leisure time, and, finally, the way in which we deal with our mortality. The video will combine live video recordings of actors with digitally created surroundings (in which the viewer pays a virtual visit to the strange, slightly ominous cruise liner at night).