For his solo exhibition at Les Moulins, which also presents his latest film ‘The Girl’, Op de Beeck brings together new sculptural and photographic works into one larger whole, a feast for the senses. On the ground floor, he stages a kind of hiking trail with gravel and small sculpted ponds - as if it were a small, indoor park - in which the spectator discovers life-size sculpted figures of children and a young woman. These silent figures in everyday poses, all of them with their eyes closed, seem lost in thought yet simultaneously caught in a moment of high concentration. There is, for example, a boy meditatively holding a crystal ball in his hands, a boy who just closed his eyes before shooting an arrow with a toy bow, and a young woman listening to music.
In addition, there are also a number of monochrome grey display cases in which the most diverse sculptural interpretations of keepsake objects were brought together. The ash-grey artefacts look like fossilized gems or archaeological finds, brought together by a fictitious, anonymous collector. In the tradition of the Wunderkammer of the European Renaissance (Cabinet of Curiosities), the collections of curiosities in each cabinet seem anachronistic and of the most diverse origin. The display cases bridge the thin line between valuable and worthless, between specialness and banality and the importance of stories to bring a still object to life. They are display cases that seem to have been stripped of all their lustre and left behind as silent, abandoned units.
Here, the viewer can take place in sculpted sofas set up in different places, as in a kind of surreal game that plays with the notions of interior and exterior. Also on the ground floor is the entrance to a projection room. Op de Beeck’s most recent film ‘The Girl’ (2017) lets the viewer follow a fourteen-year-old girl as she lives an isolated existence in an old trailer near a lake, a highway and a dark forest. The underlying story gives a lot of cause for thought. Why is she alone, presumably parentless? How does she organize her day, how does she survive? What thoughts are going through her? Why is she floating so resignedly on a lake? On the first floor, Op de Beeck presents for the first time a large collection of black and white photos in which the idea of the staging of the image is explored in a variety of ways. Fictional natural landscapes as well as interiors and characters appear as life-sized or reduced-scale constructions. For the first time, Op de Beeck also shows a number of work photos that were made in the studio. The photographs address, among other things, man’s tragicomic desire for staging, ranging from furnishing a living room, setting up a party table to shaping the public space. The images blend high and low culture, authenticity and artificiality, taste and bad taste, seriousness and light-footedness.
Hans Op de Beeck (B) produces large-scale immersive installations, sculptures, films, drawings, paintings, photographs and texts. He writes, directs and creates stage design for plays, and will start to direct opera this year (2018). His work is a reflection on our complex society and the universal questions of meaning and mortality that resonate within it.
He regards man as a being who stages the world around him in a tragi- comic way. Above all, Op de Beeck is keen to stimulate the viewers’ senses, and invite them to really experience the image. He seeks to create a form of visual fiction that delivers a moment of wonder, silence and introspection. Op de Beeck has shown his work extensively in solo and group exhibitions around the world. He has had substantial institutional solo shows at the GEM Museum of Contemporary Art of The Hague, The Hague, NL (2004); MUHKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp, B (2006); Centraal Museum, Utrecht, NL (2007); the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, US (2010); Kunstmuseum Thun, CH (2010); Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, Burgos, ES (2010); Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, IRL (2012); Kunstverein Hannover, D (2012); Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, USA (2013); the Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL, USA (2013); FRAC Paca, Marseille, F (2013); MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Boston MA, US (2014); MOCA Cleveland, OH, US (2014); Sammlung Goetz, Munich, D (2014); Screen Space, Melbourne, AU (2015); Espace 104, Paris, FR (2016); Art Unlimited, Basel, CH (2016); Kunstraum Dornbirn, Dornbirn, AU (2017); Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, DE (2017); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, DE (2017); Fondazione Museo Pino Pascali, Polignano a Mare, IT (2017); ...
Op de Beeck has participated in numerous group shows at institutions such as The Reina Sofia, Madrid, ES; the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, AZ, US; the Towada Art Center, Towada, JP; ZKM, Karlsruhe, DE; MACRO, Rome, IT; the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, GB; PS1, New York, NY, US; Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR; Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Köln, DE; Hangar Bicocca, Milano, IT; the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, JP; 21C Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, US; The Drawing Center, New York, NY, US; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, AT; Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, CN; MAMBA, Buenos Aires, AR; Haus der Kunst, Munich, DE; Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, Bologna, IT; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, DE; Musée des Beaux Arts de Caen, Caen, FR; Kunstraum Dornbirn, Dornbirn, AU; Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, DE; Den Frie Center of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, DK; Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels, BE; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, DE; Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, DE; ....
His work has been invited for the Venice Biennale, Venice, IT; the Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, CN; the Aichi Triennale, Aichi, JP; the Singapore Biennale, Singapore, SG; Art Summer University, Tate Modern, London, GB; the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, IN, Art Basel Miami Beach, and many other art events. Hans Op de Beeck was born in Turnhout (BE) in 1969. He lives and works in Brussels, Belgium.