Lifelike Installations in Gray by Artist Hans Op de Beeck Highlight Narratives of Change
Grace Ebert | This Is Colossal, 3 August 2021
In The Boatman and Other Stories, Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck reflects on the fleeting stages of life through an evocative series of vignettes in uniform gray. The vast exhibition, which is on view through January 6, 2022, at Galleria Continua in San Gimignano, Italy, features imagined subjects amidst their typical environments: A shirtless man steers his small rowing boat carrying a dog, chicken, and baskets of food through lily pads, a Brazilian dancer with feathered headdress rests on a tufted chair, and two hand-holding teenagers silently sit on a rocky cliff. Although the lifelike figures have vastly different identities and backgrounds, a universal theme of transition and impending change runs through each narrative.
Alongside the larger scenes, Op de Beeck presents still lifes comprised of disparate and anachronistic items, like the coral and candle-laden “Vanitas Table” and the oversized skull, fruit, and bottles tableau in “Vanitas XL.” Most of his works are entirely monochromatic, although minuscule cherry blossoms in “Wunderkammer (12)” disrupt the strict color palette with small, pink petals. Despite portraying seemingly banal moments, the artist’s sculptures and installations are imbued with a sense of wonder and mystery, serving as an entry point into the unknown histories behind the pieces.
In addition to The Boatman and Other Stories, Op de Beeck’s life-sized carousel “Danse Macabre” will sit in front of the Saint Walburga Church in Bruges until October 24 as part of the Bruges Triennial 2021. See more of his works spanning installation, sculpture, and watercolor portraits on his site and Instagram.