Art Dictionary

Michaël Borremans

Biography

Michaël Borremans (*1963 in Gent / Belgien) lives in Gent. Numerous Solo- and Group Exhibitions.

Books related to this subject

Michaël Borremans

Michaël Borremans
Eating the Beard

out of print
ISBN 978-3-7757-2835-5
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A celebrated new star in today´s figurative painting scene

"A painting is not a stationary image: it moves, it is a presence. Film is something I would still like to experiment with." (Michael Borremans)

Belgian artist Michaël Borremans is a celebrated new star in today´s figurative painting scene. Although he originally studied photography and graphic design, he first made a name for himself internationally with his bleak drawings and inscrutable paintings. Most of his remarkably virtuoso paintings are in reserved colors, and they feature figures or small groups, gesturing emphatically and behaving in a very concentrated way. Yet what the characters are actually doing remains a mystery. Everything seems to be suffused with an oppressive sense of timelessness, while the actions of the figures do not appear to make any sense. The painter´s ironic commentary on middle-class norms and compulsions is recognizable. Borremans´ complex, fascinating works are based on or influenced by old photographs, magazines, famous TV series, and literature. In a manner similar to Joseph Cornell´s, he gathers these disparate elements in his intimate, poetic tableaux. For Borremans, »a painting is not a still image: it moves, it has presence.«

Borremans has been working with film since 2005. His films are slowly changing tableaux vivants with poetic titles, in which barely noticeable camera movements gradually construct a stifling atmosphere. The reference to his paintings is unmistakable. From a fixed camera position, or with a slow zoom, he focuses attention on each detail of the scene: body parts, faces, or pieces of clothing. It remains unclear who these people are, or what they are doing. As is the case with his paintings, the characters in Borremans´ films walk a thin line between recognizable, everyday reality, and a bizarre dream world.

As enticing as the aesthetics of the works are, their content is equally disturbing, and almost impossible to decode. What the films, paintings, and drawings have in common is the way they overwhelm the viewer with their acceleration, precision, and allure. In his seductive works Borremans creates timeless images of internal compulsion and external power, of the latent pressure entailed in being human. Behind a veil of stylistic perfection, the artist uses deliberate mistakes and distortions to simulate common rituals of interpretation and meaning. His moody, highly charged images are puzzles involving political and psychological patterns of global perception; disguised and fragile, they oscillate between unmerciful realism and nebulous alienation.

June 30, 2010 Caroline Schilling

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