The present edition of the annual sculpture exhibition (under the auspices of Museum Beelden aan Zee) at the Lange Voorhout is a far better one than those of the last few years, in spite of it looking quite modest. The theme is sculptures from the Dutch speaking part of Belgium and it’s titled Vormidable (don’t mind the Dutch pun; vorm = form, shape).
There is a good variety of different aspects which seem to add to each other without giving the idea of a showcase of different and unrelated things. That’s quite an achievement, regarding the restricted possibilities for a sculpture show in this most lofty avenue.
On one end the exhibition opens (or ends) with a guardian angel by Johan Tahon. As with some other works of Tahon the angel is double headed. One could say that shows the split of each human being in a material and a spiritual personality. Tahon’s spirituality
is followed by representation in Wesley Meuris’ Entrance Kit for Sculpture Garden III. The information panel says: “Meuris’s intention is to show
that the link between past and present has been lost.” I think the opposite might as well be true, but it is undoubtedly a work in its proper place.
Sofie Muller’s Jesse might easily become one of the audience’s darlings. And in this case darlings shouldn’t be killed.
The boy with his trace of flowering begonias may even remind you of Hansel (from Gretel) who left a trace of pebbles to find his way home.
Leon Vranken deconstructed a decorated pedestal with wood
which may remind you of the transience of all seemingly stable things. And then,
far from the sea, there is Luk Van Soom’s high wave, both beautiful and dangerous.
Now it becomes clear why we need Tahon’s guardian angel.
Fred Eerdekens’ Landscape seems to be a bit
out of place at the Lange Voorhout in the shade of the green trees.
Tinka Pittoors’ White Migrant (Harry) seems to be a bit out of place here too.
For those who want to repent publicly there is Leo Copers’ VIPAG (Vrijwillige Individuele Publieke Automatische Gevangenis,
Voluntary Individual Public Automatic Jail). I haven’t seen anybody jailing him or herself publicly yet, but
the idea itself is a wonderful work about the absurdity of morals in our times of blaming and shaming.
Probably not accidentally near the prison is a fallen dictator by Philip Aguirre y Otegui. The dictator wasn’t on a very high plinth, so as a symbol of fallen power the sculpture is quite obscure.
Also obscure is his anonymity, one could think of any leader of the present or the past seeking the pinnacle of the lowest in human character.
Next to the dictator appropriately stands Scrinium 01 by Renato Nicolodi, an architectural model that
may remind you of the cold sternness of dictatorial architectural aesthetics of the 20th century.
According to the accompanying text the smell around Peter De Cupere’s Earth Car should remind us of the smell of the Tuscan countryside (more on Peter de Cupere on VND here) .
Well, it isn’t really an advertorial for Tuscany; the smell is almost sickening. But for the remainder it is again an installation in the best absurdist traditions (which is of course positive).
There is a sense of absurdity in Caroline Coolen’s Shepherd too (more on Caroline Coolen on VND here and on Villa La Repubblica here). The shepherd may remind you of the idealized shepherds of the 18th century in a time when high culture stood far from nature and reality,
his fragmented state working both humorous and painful and his fragmented dog underscoring his predicament (according to the information panel it is a fox that could be a victim or a culprit). Another work by
Coolen is also fragmented and seems to be caught in a whirlwind, almost complementing Van Soom’s baroque high wave.
Absurdism remains prevalent in Silver Cakespoons by Peter Rogiers. Few sculptures are as appropriate for this site as this strangely balancing tree.
LUIZAERC by Nick Ervinck was designed on a computer and printed with a 3D printer. Although the making process of a work like this is interesting (and i’m sure we’ll see a lot more 3D printing in future sculpture)
the result isn’t much more than a big plasma-like doodle got out of hand and the opposition with the decorated pedestal is nice but nothing special.
It is back to the sea again with Johan Creten’s humanized ray Octo in which different aspects are combined: the official monument on a pedestal, the showing of stuffed animals from the sea, the
idea of a sea monster, the upright stance of a human being, the human portrait, the dull lustre of a ray’s egg washed ashore and the patina of bronze.
Creten is also responsible for Le grand vivisecteur, an owl with a seat which is an instantaneous public favourite and a good end to a well balanced public exhibition.
For those who are present before 4 pm there is more to be seen by Johan Tahon in the Kloosterkerk.
As you can see, Tahon’s sculptures are quite photogenic in the church.
There is also a video where you can see Tahon at work and where he is interviewed.
“I’ve got almost none of my own sculptures”
“I do have them in plaster, but i have no bronze casts of my own work”
“That’s all in rich people’s homes”
“I can’t afford having my own works in bronze”
“Which is a pity really”