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Michaël Borremans: Fire from the Sun (Spotlight)

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The opening of the Hong Kong space marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of David Zwirner gallery as it increases its international presence beyond New York and London. But even if the paintings deceptively represent a vacuum (lack of context, setting, explanation), they are not made in one. Most recently, Michaël Borremans: Fixture, was presented at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga in 2015-2016. Published on the occasion of Borremans’s eponymous exhibition at David Zwirner in Hong Kong, this publication is available in both English-only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions.

A major museum survey, Michaël Borremans: As sweet as it gets, which included one hundred works from the past two decades, was on view at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 2014. Michaël Borremans's innovative approach to painting combines technical mastery with subject matter that defies straightforward interpretation. The paintings live in the seductive space of metaphor and possibility, which can stretch beyond the artist’s intentions. The painted figure is beside the point, more absent than present, an object to be posed and deciphered like a riddle, rather than a subject with a story. Seven years ago in his studio in Belgium, Michaël Borremans told me about the response to his painting Red Hand, Green Hand at an opening in Budapest.

Michaël Borremans: Fire from the Sun [author]Katya Tylevich[/author] visits a brutal and profound exhibition by the Belgian artist Michaël Borremans, featuring a host of Sistine-style cherubs, sometimes covered in blood. His selected writings on visual art, The Space Between, were published by Ridinghouse, London in 2011.

The children do not appear to be distressed or disturbed (though some viewers at the gallery may be). I heard other interpretations while there, and so did the artist: that the paintings examine the loss of innocence, that they are a caricature of original sin, that they meditate on hypocrisy, that they demonstrate human capacity to be at once good and evil. Each title in the Spotlight Series from David Zwirner Books features new work by a leading contemporary artist. Work by the artist is held in public collections internationally, including Art Institute of Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S. Available in both English-only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions, this series makes the work of these important artists accessible to a wider audience.As Michael Bracewell argues in new scholarship on the artist, published in the accompanying exhibition catalogue, viewers are “caught in a strange time loop, in which the nobility of execution ascribed to Old Masters―the re-creation in painting of human presence, caught both stilled, in a particular instant of its being, and for eternity―is placed in the service of vertiginous modernist vision. Fire from the Sun includes small and large scale works that feature toddlers engaged in playful but mysterious acts with sinister overtones and insinuations of violence. K.), Ghent (2005; traveled to Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London; and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin); Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio (2005); Kunsthalle Bremerhaven, Germany (2004); and Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (both 2004). Hong Kong is an international city, a port city, a crux of world politics, world history and world finances. Like Red Hand, Green Hand, this exhibition has an intuitive relevance to the time in which it was created and the circumstances in which it first exhibited.

The main theme depicts naked toddlers (like in the Renaissance with the putti) who seem to be in a very strange ritual.To finish on a lighter note, David Zwirner’s first outpost in Asia will located in H Queen’s, the new tower in Hong Kong’s Central district. Embarking on a career as a painter relatively late, at the age of 33, Belgian artist Michaël Borremans initially trained as a draughtsman and engraver at Saint Lucas in Ghent.

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