Critics’ Picks

Willem Oorebeek, Pirelli Panorama (twin), 2007, rubber, glass, perspex, 2 pieces, each: 29 1/2 x 29 1/2". Installation view. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis

Willem Oorebeek, Pirelli Panorama (twin), 2007, rubber, glass, perspex, 2 pieces, each: 29 1/2 x 29 1/2". Installation view. Photo: Isabelle Arthuis

Brussels

Willem Oorebeek

Beige
Rue Coppens 3
November 18, 2022–January 21, 2023

The exhibition “1, 2, 3 Pirelli” presents new and preexisting works by Willem Oorebeek, effectively encapsulating the artist’s long-standing interest in printing techniques, image circulation, and authority. Without Title, 2022, is a printed replica of a political poster mounted on aluminium. Oorebeek takes the image of a politician’s awkward smile to potential voters during a recent campaign in Belgium and covers it with semitransparent rubber dots, applied with a roller to form a relatively geometric pattern reminiscent of a halftone print. The circulation of political posters in Belgium is highly regulated: They can only be hung in specific locations and only during specific periods. The artist flagrantly displays this image outside of these prescribed times and spaces, attesting to the ways the material props of power can offer a critical commentary on that power’s authority.

These works are complemented by the complete showing of Oorebeek’s “Pirelli” series, which he started in the mid-1990s. These pieces revolve around the kind of nonslip rubber floor tiles typically found in metro stations, which Oorebeek sheathes in a translucent cover that reflects the surroundings. The raised bumps that give the material its traction again evoke the dots of the halftone printing technique, superimposing themselves on whatever the mirroring surface reflects. In this way, they not only suggest that artworks have the ability to convert their environments into images, but also push at the conception of political authority as a paternalistic regulator of public space, using the very materials that supposedly enhance security.