Fresh in a Classic Institution – Jan Fabre @ The Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Brussels

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Museums usually tend to be places of deep contemplation. Rarely does humour and comedy come to mind when referring to such an institution. However, The Royal Museum of Fine Arts of BRUSSELS has invited contemporary artist Jan Fabre to display 36 bronze and wax busts in his exhibition called Chapters I-XVIII Waxes & BronzeAmongst the FAMOUS Flemish OLD MASTERS, such as Rubens and Breugel, one can fund these chucklesome busts (with faces that mirror those similar to Damien Hirst’s outlandish poses – or so some of them appear to be). These 36 busts are all self-portraits of the artist, mimicking art historical references, yet bringing them into the contemporary in a comical way. Fabre’s self-portraits are made of clean shiny bronze diverging from the usual dark dreary bronze that were used during the 19th century – very Koons-esque. The seriousness of these sculptures are also obliterated by poses of the artist laughing, smiling, and sticking out his tongue with sunglasses, unicorn horns, deer horns, and various other mythical creature features.

For me at least, these busts bring a light humour to a very stern environment. It relaxes us from the strict setting of the Museum and allows us (or for me at least) to not be as serious and remind us to enjoy the beauty of the art surrounding us.  Fabre describes that he, through making these portraits “…laugh[s] with myself. You see the obstinate Jan Fabre, the coarse Jan Fabre, the diabolic Jan Fabre, and the foolish Jan Fabre. There is a kind of irony in it, of course.” This of course is not to discredit his work altogether as foolishness. Fabre is also cleverly studying and contemplating the medium of historical self-portraiture, the human body, and more importantly how we situate and are aware of our own existence within the world we live in. However, he does this in a playful way, which is refreshing.

If you have a chance to come visit Brussels, then I highly recommend you come visit The Museum of Fine Arts of Brussels. Kill two birds with one stone – get your fix of the Old Masters with a Contemporary TWIST.

PEACE OUT, K

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