Jos Van den Bergh

  • Mathew Cerletty

    Walking through the huge new space of Office Baroque, one became aware of something familiar in the overwhelming European solo debut of Mathew Cerletty’s paintings and drawings. More specifically, it was Roses, 2008, a brilliantly painted depiction of flowers—so beautiful that they seemed to be artificial, giving a feeling of déjà vu. One thinks of the seductive quality of the artist’s earlier works, such as Fagaroo, 2002; Le Saucier, 2003; and the impressively melancholic Trying to Live Beside the Point, 2003. In these pages in 2004, Christopher Bollen acutely noted the impact of such images:

  • Kathe Burkhart

    The world has changed a lot since American artist Kathe Burkhart began her “Liz Taylor” series, 1982–. But the language Burkhart uses hasn’t changed one bit, as one could see in “Women and Children First,” a selection of her paintings, drawings, and photographs. In fact, the oldest work there, Eikel (Conspirator), 1994, is stylistically interchangeable with a more recent painting, Blueballs (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), 2007. It may seem strange that in more than twenty-five years there has been no stylistic evolution—and that this constancy seems to be a defining quality of the artist’s work. Indeed,

  • Smadar Dreyfus

    Along the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line in the Golan Heights lies the “Shouting Hill.” One side of the hill is controlled by Israel, the other by Syria. Every year during the annual Syrian Mother’s Day celebration, Druze students who live in the Israeli zone yet study in Damascus gather on the Syrian side of the hill, while their mothers wait on the Israeli-controlled side. Using a PA system, sons and daughters exchange greetings with their mothers, who reply by shouting through megaphones. The reason for this arduous communication is that youngsters from the local Druze community are offered

  • Maryam Najd

    Maryam Najd was born in Tehran in 1965 and left Iran at the age of twenty-six to study and live in Antwerp. Just old enough to remember the Islamic Revolution, she grew up in a country beset by tumultuous events, where artistic expression was severely limited. The isolation in which Najd was forced to work had at least one advantage: She could work on her style undisturbed. Her recent show was called “GET GIRL, KILL BADDIES, SAVE PLANET,” and those words appeared in the first painting viewers encountered upon entering the gallery. Superimposed on a portrait of a naive- but harmless-looking young

  • Nicolas Provost

    It is hard to believe that Nicolas Provost filmed the entirety of Plot Point, 2007, with a concealed camera on the streets of New York. The production value of the images and styling seems more like what you would see in a vintage Lynch film, and with a similar sense of artifice. Ordinary life is transformed into pure cinematography, as if you were watching a Philip-Lorca diCorcia photo come to life. The light feels like stage light. The people on the street move like dramatic performers. There is a suggestion of an intangible tension in the streets, and we feel that something is about to happen.

  • Hans Op de Beeck

    Hans Op de Beeck’s early work investigated issues such as the fate of refugees or the consequences of living in an inhumane urban landscape. He used multiple means and media to fabricate an imitation of life or comment on our environment. Often Op de Beeck reproduced a hushed world on a small scale or filmed common situations, isolating them and turning them into immediately recognizable documents of our age.

    With “Family: Scenes and Scenery,” Op de Beeck looked at a different aspect of daily existence, turning his lens on the social niceties of what we all know well—family life. Where he used

  • Kati Heck

    Two nearly naked, life-size men are looking at us. The expressions on their faces can say or mean anything. Is it arrogance, disinterest, or plain boredom? One is sitting on a chair, legs stretched out on a barstool. The other is leaning toward his friend. Or is it his friend? And what’s wrong with the hand of the seated man? It looks like blood is being tapped from his fingers into weird objects. In Kati Heck’s paintings things are suggested that must be interpreted or even projected by the viewer. The interaction between the two men in Chapeau, 2005, seems more like that of partners than, say,

  • Su-Mei Tse

    For many, the news that the 2003 Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion would be awarded to Luxembourg-based artist Su-mei Tse was, to say the least, unexpected. But for the happy few who’d managed to find their way through the narrow streets and overcrowded canals to the Luxembourg pavilion, there was little to be surprised about: After all, Tse had conjured a simple, powerful, and—why not?—beautiful transformation of a complex reality. Her video projection Les Balayeurs du desert (The Desert Sweepers), 2003, for instance, made a poetic yet lucid comment on how the Western world is keen to use immigrants

  • Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven

    About a year ago, it was reported that Swiss-based scientists had succeeded in creating antimatter, the mirror image of matter—purportedly an important breakthrough inasmuch as this could explain, or at least tell us more about, the big bang. This news item was the starting point for Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven’s latest project, “Anti-Sade.” Paraphrasing the news report but changing terms like “the standard model of physics” and “antimatter” into “the standard model of moral philosophy” and “anti-Sade,” the content acquired at times a subversive, allusive, and above all ironic tone.

    According to the

  • Vincent Geyskens

    A SUCCESSFUL MINTER can do a lot of damage in a small country. To name the painter, Luc Tuymans. To name the country, Belgium. Young artists here struggle with the question of how to escape Belgium's association with a kind of perverted surrealism. In Tuymans's case this resulted in frightening, loaded, disturbed images. On the other end of the spectrum, the same struggle gave rise to Wim Delvoye's cynical view on art versus—or embracing—commercial language. But a tattooed pig in a museum or a machine that produces shit is, in a way, as Belgian as a Magritte painting. Both Tuymans and

  • Alicia Framis

    It’s hardly unusual for an artist to question contemporary society, but it is surprising to receive genuinely poetic yet straightforward answers. Days after seeing Alicia Framis’s “Remix Buildings,” her latest contribution to shaping a better world, I was still haunted by her propositions, which are fantastic in the truest sense of the word. These proposed interventions in the public domain—shown in the form of color photographs of her maquettes—are in no way cryptic, and they avoid the hermetic intellectualism and easy sarcasm that have become so commonplace.

    Example: The Dam Square

  • Peter De Cupere

    Everybody has memories, and the older you get, the more selective you are about them. You forget the so-called important events of your life and for one reason or another cherish the details: a brief encounter in the subway, a certain compliment your father gave you when you were five, the first time you ever heard a particular song. The songs, books, and paintings you like the most have some connection with this strange selective memory of yours. As for me, I still remember the Wednesday smell of my grandmother’s homemade fries, and that is exactly the reason why I’m so affected by Peter De

  • Sven 't Jolle

    The title of Luis Buñuel’s 1972 masterpiece The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie could well have been the credo for Sven ’t Jolle’s show of recent work. The actual title—“De betere klasse heeft ook recht op ontspanning!” (The better class also has a right to entertainment!)—certainly sounds like a never-made film by the Spanish director, and the similarities run deeper than mere titular resemblance. In ’t Jolle’s work as in Buñuel’s, irony, social problems, subversiveness, and political reflections are all mixed together in a lighthearted artistic survey of what is wrong with society.

    One of

  • Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven

    Provocatively titled “Headnurse,” AnneMie Van Kerckhoven’s recent exhibition appropriated two thousand years’ worth of sexist stereotypes. This may sound pretentious, but despite the philosophical, historical, and scientific references riddled throughout the artist’s work, her latest alter ego—a nurse who uses cliched depictions of women to “cure” psychological and philosophical problems—radiates humor and high spirits. Van Kerckhoven grouped the material, including ’50s pinups, into three categories: women clad in nothing but a belt, figures exposing their breasts while looking unabashedly back

  • Jan Van Imschoot

    A famous curator recently declared the act of painting “illegitimate,” or obsolete. It could just be a coincidence, but since the last Documenta the most interesting art I’ve seen has involved this supposedly reactionary and out-of-date medium. Call it my mistake if you will, but it seems that the familiar refrain that painting is dead (again) doesn’t correspond to reality.

    Take the Belgian painter—or perhaps “imagemaker” would be a more appropriate term—Jan Van Imschoot. Van Imschoot’s universe is extremely rich, full of paradoxes and fueled by such compassion for or astonishment over what he

  • William Kentridge

    Although there’s an entire new generation of fascinating South African artists at work today, perhaps the most remarkable recent addition to the international scene has been William Kentridge. The artist’s labor-intensive drawings, which form the basis of his animated films, are so impressive that they may overshadow the fact that Kentridge produces work in a number of media. (He’s even recently directed an opera, Ulysses, which made its debut last year.) In Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts curator Piet Coessens has gathered a wide-ranging selection of the artist’s work—more than forty

  • Wim Delvoye

    If there can be said to be such a thing as a Belgian attitude in art, Wim Delvoye embodies it perfectly: without becoming anecdotal or regional, his work addresses things that are rotten in the state of Belgium. Delvoye transforms the surrounding environment into a sardonic fairy tale, endowing familiar objects (such as ironing boards, tennis rackets, carpets), and clichés or obsolete proverbs (like “home sweet home”) with an entirely new identity.

    His latest exhibition was his most extreme so far; in fact, it triggered a polemical discussion about the ethical aspects of his artmaking, as well

  • Angel Vergara

    Imagine one day entering your favorite gallery, only to find it has been transformed into a bistro differing from a typical SoHo café only in that the service is better and the place seems to have been there for centuries. You have probably walked into an installation by the artist Angel Vergara, one of Belgium’s best-kept secrets. Vergara may appear at first glance to be a practical joker, yet his work is never as obvious as it seems. In the café projects recently presented in Brussels, Antwerp, and Tokyo, or in the stylish ice-cream parlor he created in Aachen, Germany, one could sit and have

  • Guillaume Bijl

    In 1979 Guillaume Bijl wrote a fictitious pamphlet in which the Belgian government dismissed art as “superfluous.” The perverse but logical conclusion was that all art spaces needed to be transformed into useful social institutions. Ironically, during the next decade the very opposite of what Bijl had predicted occurred: in Ostend a former warehouse was transformed into the Museum for Modern Art, and in Antwerp an old factory was transformed into the Museum for Contemporary Art—the very same “museum” in which Bijl’s recent installation was exhibited. More than anywhere else, in Belgium reality

  • Luc Tuymans

    How is it that Luc Tuymans’ apparently neutral and aloof paintings manage to be so unsettling? Does the viewer sense that there is something hidden beneath the surface, or is it simply a matter of their particular texture and style—the artist’s deliberate use of the “wrong” colors, for example? The paintings in Tuyman’s recent show entitled “Heimat” suggest that it could be a combination of both.

    This series, which shared the same title as the show, dealt with themes related to the extreme right in Flanders. Tuymans’ approach in these paintings seemed in many ways familiar: one found the same