Hans Op de Beeck: Sea of Tranquillity & Staging Views

11 June 2011 - 4 September 2011

Kunstmuseum Thun, Thun, CH

Hans Op de Beeck (born 1969 in Turnhout) uses a wide variety of media in his oeuvre – he paints, draws, photographs, films and develops sculptures and monumental installations. He also writes stories and designs stage sets. In his parallel worlds he creates fictitious places, moments and characters, which he hopes will be accepted by the spectator as something real for one moment. In his play with illusion, the artist questions the complex relationship between reality and representation, of what we see and what we want to believe in order to better deal with one's own inadequacies. His evocative visual imagery produces in us disturbing, melancholic images full of ambivalence and in this way reflect the tragicomic absurdity of our postmodern existence.

In the new group of works titled Sea of Tranquillity, Op de Beeck thematises the fascination and utopia of luxury liners modelled after the historic, gigantic ships like the Titanic or the Queen Mary. In the process he questions conventional notions of faith in an infallible technology. Similarly he demonstrates the emptiness of hermetic consumerism with its all-round service and the promise of an unlimited supply. During a scholarship residency in St. Nazaire (F), Op de Beeck's interest in the issue was aroused. St. Nazaire was the last to be liberated in World War II, and he was impressed by this French port town with its huge dockyard for German U-boats that used to be at the centre. The largest cruise ship in the world, the Queen Mary 2, was also built there recently. In the exhibition he has condensed these impressions into a dream-like tour. In the process the visitor encounters, for instance, in darkened rooms the model of a ship, a captain and a maid cast in wax, and finally the half-hour film Sea of Tranquillity. The film takes place inside an imaginary cruise ship. The scenes of this decadent, perhaps even doomed world are loosely strung together.

In the second part of the Thun exhibition Op de Beeck shows additional works that bring to mind his deep interest in the panorama architecture and thus also create a dialogue with the Thun Panorama.
The Kunstmuseum Thun presents the first institutional solo exhibition of the Belgian artist in Switzerland. It was created in collaboration with Le Grand Café, Centre d'art contemporain, St. Nazaire (F), ARGOS in Brussels (B) and CAP in Burgos (E).