Critics’ Picks

View of “Jan de Cock: Sculpturecommunism,” 2015.

Brussels

Jan de Cock

Office Baroque
Bloemenhofplein 5 Place du Jardin aux Fleurs
January 24–March 7, 2015

In 2008, Belgian artist Jan de Cock conceived Denkmal 11, a floor-to-ceiling installation at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, in which photographs he took of its permanent collection—images from the histories of architecture, film, and photography—and his own modernism-inspired sculptures were apposed high and low on the walls and floor of a single gallery. A recursive monument within the edifice of institutional didactics, this work provoked a reevaluation by eliding viewer and object from comfortably seeing a privileged narrative eye to eye.

“Sculpturecommunism,” de Cock’s debut exhibition at this gallery, disadvantages sightlines of the exhibition space through a complex reframing of structure-support relationships. Eight “Motifs” in wood (all works 2015), heavy in paint and allusions from Giacometti to Judd, thrust diagonally, as if provisional braces, on the gallery’s walls with a Serra-inspired threat. The slightest disequilibrium and the white cube might virtually fall flat––attesting to the primacy of objects in upholding or rejecting their constructed context. Also on view are seven freestanding “Gifts,” whose strata of Twomblian scrawls are matched only by the storied art histories they invoke: Tripodal Gift 88, four tiers of trabeated chipboard and wood, makes cloying calls to a Mondrian grid painting. Walnuts, coated in the same cerise sealing wax used by Erasmus, appear as multitudinous cherries atop this layered slice of history, reflecting de Cock’s MoMA mise en abyme. Insulated within the imprimatur of the canon and supported by a foundation of referentiality, intramural critique reveals itself here as a most challenging nut to crack.