“Topsy Turvy”

De Appel arts centre
Schipluidenlaan 12D4
May 25, 2012–September 23, 2012

James Ensor, Carnival in Flanders, 1931, oil on canvas, 21 1/4 x 28 3/4".

Curated by director Ann Demeester, “Topsy Turvy,” the first exhibition in De Appel’s new location and renovated space, lives up to its title, as many of the works create a sense of confusion, or at least point to the more aberrant aspects of life. The exhibition includes a collection of David Lloyd’s drawings from 1982–85 for V for Vendetta, the comic book written by Alan Moore, as well as a portrait of the anarchist V shown in his Guy Fawkes mask, which was appropriated by the Occupy movement—a recent example of Oscar Wilde’s antimimetic, life-imitates-art position. Ugo Rondinone’s hyperrealist sculpture of a dozing plump circus clown in bright garb, If There Were Anywhere but Desert. Sunday, 2000, shows the human side of the performer, who exhibits the same foibles as the rest of us, appearing gluttonous and lazy rather than entertaining.

Although not a part of the exhibition, the alluring long-term installation of LED lights that continuously shift color in Allard van Hoorn’s Skies over Snaefell, 2012, refers to the sky over a glacier in Iceland and helps connect the first and second floors, as it is situated on a wall that is viewable from both above and below. Upstairs, the James Ensor painting Carnival in Flanders, 1931, is not as festive as it initially appears; on careful examination it reveals a bloody bird that was ravaged by two cats amid a parade of colorful performers. Toshie Takeuchi’s film Tampopo Head and the Name of the Dogs, 2011, focuses on two reclusive men: Ed—an avid reader of philosophy and the father of Takeuchi’s friend Janneke—and Hilko, who lives with six hounds that he has named after women from real life. A creepy psychological portrait, the reality-inspired work provides undeniable voyeuristic pleasure, while emphasizing the strange dynamic among the four characters in several dreamlike sequences.

Chris Bors