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Michaël Borremans: Fire from the Sun (Spotlight)

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Published on the occasion of Borremans’s eponymous exhibition at David Zwirner in Hong Kong, this publication is available in both English-only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions. Published on the occasion of Borremans’s eponymous exhibition at David Zwirner in Hong Kong, this publication is available in both English-only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions. They are untethered, directionless, forever waiting in a non-place, forever forced to repeat pointless actions that seem to have no beginning or no end.

As Michael Bracewell argues in new scholarship on the artist, published in the accompanying exhibition catalogue, viewers are “caught in a strange time loop, in which the nobility of execution ascribed to Old Masters―the re-creation in painting of human presence, caught both stilled, in a particular instant of its being, and for eternity―is placed in the service of vertiginous modernist vision. K.), Ghent (2005; traveled to Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London; and the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin); Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio (2005); Kunsthalle Bremerhaven, Germany (2004); and Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (both 2004).Most recently, Michaël Borremans: Fixture, was presented at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga in 2015–2016. Each title in the Spotlight Series from David Zwirner Books features new work by a leading contemporary artist. From the outset the artist understood he was taking a risk with the new works, precisely because of their open relationship with interpretation. Seven years ago in his studio in Belgium, Michaël Borremans told me about the response to his painting Red Hand, Green Hand at an opening in Budapest. Michaël Borremans combine horror and innocence in this young children, becoming allegories of the human condition.

Borremans uses the language of portraiture to draw in the viewer but then subverts our expectations and understanding of the works. This year at the opening of his solo exhibition, Fire from the Sun, the inaugural show at David Zwirner’s new gallery in Hong Kong, Borremans was likewise satisfied.The exhibition traveled later in the year to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, followed by the Dallas Museum of Art in 2015. A major museum survey, Michaël Borremans: As sweet as it gets, which included one hundred works from two decades, was on view at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 2014.

These ghostly figments remind us of the artist’s hand (another detached extremity) and its control over what we see and what we don’t. The opening of the Hong Kong space marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of David Zwirner gallery as it increases its international presence beyond New York and London. Other paintings in the exhibition depict obscure machines, whose enigmatic presence appears foreboding in the context of the toddlers and suggests an element of scientific experimentation.In some fictional future, they might be unreliable carriers of this formative origin story or trauma. His paintings depict figures sometimes incomplete with limbs or heads missing, frozen mid gesture, seemingly swaying or dancing to unheard music or engaging in some sinister ritual. The first in a series of small-format publications devoted to single bodies of work, Fire from the Sun highlights Michaël Borremans’s new work, which features toddlers engaged in playful but mysterious acts with sinister overtones and insinuations of violence. That the painting had had an unintended and instinctive meaning signalled that “I had made a good work”, Borremans said. Even the gestures and postures of the figures, with slouched shoulders and downcast faces, seem to indicate resignation, as if they had long ago accustomed themselves to the purgatory of their existence.

But even if the paintings deceptively represent a vacuum (lack of context, setting, explanation), they are not made in one. These images are not outliers: they are set against that same backdrop and clearly part of the fragments that we are meant to piece together. Work by the artist is held in public collections internationally, including Art Institute of Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S. Most recently, Michaël Borremans: Fixture, was presented at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga in 2015-2016. The general opening was likewise packed—crammed, stuffed—no doubt with people from different starting points.Other venues which have hosted solo exhibitions include the kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2009); de Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam (2007); Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S. Available in both English-only and bilingual English/traditional Chinese editions, this series makes the work of these important artists accessible to a wider audience. From January 27 to March 10, Michaël Borremans, Belgian painter and filmmaker, will have his first solo show in Hong-Kong for the opening of the outpost of David Zwirner Gallery, Fire from the Sun. This is a set or a stage, devoid of context, withholding of answers, but suggestive of a director or someone watching. The painted figure is beside the point, more absent than present, an object to be posed and deciphered like a riddle, rather than a subject with a story.

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