Hans Op de Beeck: Blender

23 April 2005 - 2 July 2005

Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, IT

Born in Turnhout, Belgium in 1969, Hans Op de Beeck lives and works in Brussels.

Despite his young age, Hans Op de Beeck has already shown at a number of important exhibitions, and in 2004 he was one of a small number of artists invited to exhibit in the prestigious ArtUnlimited section of ArtBasel. He received warm public and critical acclaim for his reconstruction, in the form of a maquette that can be walked around and visited, of a service station, an anonymous, alienating place (or rather non-place) inside which a window opens on a long, desolate highway. Op de Beeck’s maquettes are genuine simulacra, copies without an original where the process of reconstruction takes place by virtue of memory rather than through direct observation of reality.

The artist’s video works involve a number of preliminary steps, including the production of photographs, drawings and slides. These offer points of view and studies of the subject or theme but never reveal the content and images of the finished work, to the extent that there almost seems to be no relation between them and the video. The films generally have their own independent status, but the artist does not exclude the possibility of presenting them within the context of installations or large maquettes. Op de Beeck focuses on small, generally unconscious gestures: looks, silences, fragments of life, scenes from everyday life. However he succeeds in giving them a surreal dimension, thereby departing from simple narration and converting the images into metaphors of the human condition. “My objective is to create images that are distanced from our everyday life”, comments Op de Beeck. This is also achieved by manipulating reality, in other words by introducing artificial, almost imperceptible elements into the videos, which create small gaps with regard to the real.

The recurrent themes explored by the Belgian artist are non-communicability, waiting, loss and degradation. His work also seems to be tinged with melancholy and informed by a Romantic taste; indeed, Op de Beeck draws on a number of Romantic stereotypes of representation and reintroduces them as current values.

The work that Hans Op de Beeck is presenting at Galleria Continua, Blender (2003), takes us in a certain sense back to childhood and from there to the flow of life, to passing time, to a cycle that is consumed and resumes without interruption. The cycle of life? The cycle of the world? There are no temporal references or any human presence in the video, just a turning roundabout that creates a vortex of colours without form, with, in the background, organ music, the voices of children and interrupted, undistinguishable conversations. In this, as in other works by Op de Beeck, one can sense a certain incompletion or unfinishedness that takes the viewer into a reality that has fuzzy boundaries and is suspended in time, deliberately ambiguous and undefined.