Critics’ Picks

Ann Veronica Janssens, Blue, Red, and Yellow, 2001/2009, transparent polycarbonate, color PVC gels, smoke machine, 100 x 83 x 82 1/2".

Ann Veronica Janssens, Blue, Red, and Yellow, 2001/2009, transparent polycarbonate, color PVC gels, smoke machine, 100 x 83 x 82 1/2".

Brussels

Ann Veronica Janssens

WIELS Contemporary Art Centre
Avenue Van Volxemlaan 354
September 5–December 6, 2009

Following solo exhibitions by noted international artists such as Mike Kelley, Yayoi Kusama, and Dan Perjovschi, it now seems that the two-and-a-half-year-old art center in Wiels, Belgium, will focus on a series of shows devoted to the country’s most distinguished contemporary artists. Several months ago, recent works by Luc Tuymans were on display. This time, it’s Ann Veronica Janssens’s turn; her exhibition will be followed by retrospectives of Francis Alÿs and Joëlle Tuerlinckx. Although Tuymans’s exhibit was somewhat disappointing, Janssens’s is an undeniable success.

Known for multimedia installations that play with the limits of sensory perception, the artist offers an almost cinematographic experience of light, color, and sound. The exhibition begins violently with Untitled (Martin Mac2000 Performance), 2009, a stroboscopic projection of a changing circle on a screen installed in the center of a large empty room, which is followed by Liquid Bar, 2009, a long metal beam with one side that has hardly been polished, and Untitled (Sons infinis), 2009, an obsessive looped sound track. These works show the viewer that physical phenomena exist outside man and offer the opposite of an anthropocentric viewpoint.

Next up, the exhibition presents a few videos and installations, including Eclipses, 2006–2009, and Jupiter, 2009. Here, the artist rethinks the relationship between humankind and the universe and questions the place of science in the human (re)conquest of time and space. In the third and final part of the exhibit, partially on view on the roof terrace, is a mobile, containerlike structure titled Blue, Red, and Yellow, 2001/2009. From the moment viewers enter this work, they are plunged into a vibrantly hued cloud, and after a few steps they are completely lost in the colors. This piece smartly rounds out the exhibition by presenting, on a metaphoric level, the phenomenon of color as physical. Moreover, it appears as a hallmark of unity between humans and their common experience of the physical environment.

Translated from French by Jane Brodie.