Hans Op de Beeck: Staging Silence
17 January 2009 - 29 March 2009
Galleria Continua, Beijing, CN
For his first solo exhibition in China, Hans Op de Beeck is presenting a large three-dimensional installation, a new animated film and a new series of black-and-white watercolours. The artist has given the exhibition the title of ‘Staging Silence’, because all of the works are a reference to the staged image, which invites silence and reflection. He also wishes to comment upon the ineptitude and insignificance of human beings in relation to our own mortality and the magnificence and endlessness of nature.
‘Location (6)’ is a monumental sculptural installation, based on the historic panorama constructions created, particularly over the past two centuries in Europe, to suggest an endless landscape completely surrounding the viewer.
Traditional panoramas combine a three-dimensional foreground with a painted background. ‘Location (6)’, however, is made up entirely of a sculpted trompe l’oeil landscape, with artificial fog and light. The spectator can view the landscape from a central observatory that is reached via a long, narrow corridor. From a seated position, the visitor looks at the scene through the panoramic window, a vast snowy expanse with bare trees. The landscape, the observatory, and its interior are all white.
In contrast to earlier forms of panoramic constructions, ‘Location (6)’ does not aim to entertain or to inform. Instead, the artist uses the infinity of the perspective as a means of drawing the viewer’s eye inward, to the contemplative self.
For this exhibition, Hans Op de Beeck has also created a new animated film, using black-and-white watercolours based on photographs taken from the Internet and images from documentaries and educational videos. In terms of content, ‘Extensions’ deals with cultural and subcultural rituals, science and technology as extensions of the human body, and as the physical manifestation of an unfailing belief in progress, which is both redemptive and ethically problematic.
Op de Beeck is furthermore presenting ‘Constructions’, his new series of black-and-white watercolours, pictures in large and small formats. Besides a variety of Romantic archetypes of infinity and transience, including watercolours of a ruin, a post-war landscape, a view of the sea at night and an idyllic mountain scene, the series also features contemporary, architectural sites for meditation, such as the sterile departure lounge of an airport. These impersonal places of transit in modern life are perfect sites for letting go of our activity and our identity and becoming passive observers of life rather than participants.