JANUARY 29–MAY 23, 2010
The films, paintings, and drawings by Belgian artist Michaël Borremans (born 1963) engage the viewer with stilled images rendered in a precise and exacting style. His seductive works contain timeless images that capture what has been described as "the inner drive and external force–the latent pressures–involved in being human." His figures perform common rituals and simple gestures, though they are set within an environment shrouded in mystery or ambiguity. His intensely atmospheric images are puzzles that oscillate in a fragile way between inexorable realism and nebulous distance.
Michaël Borremans has been the focus of several solo and group exhibitions since the late 1990s. His work is in the permanent collections of many prestigious institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Modern Art, Hammer Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Michaël Borremans' exhibition was one of six exhibitions focused on the metaphysics of the human figure grouped under the title Looking for the Face I Had Before the World Was Made. The artists included: Michaël Borremans, Samuel Beckett, Eric & Heather ChanSchatz, Lorraine O'Grady, A. G. Rizzoli and William Stockman. Each of the artists explored how depicting the human figure can offer something more consequential than a simple catalogue of physical features. Each work in the exhibition told a human story while de-emphasizing the likeness of any particular person. Using a wide variety of styles, the artists were joined by an interest in creating a sense of a phenomenon deeper than the surface image, capturing a presence prior to the appearance of the fully formed individual. The line "Looking for the face I had before the world was made," is a quote from the late poet and dramatist, William Butler Yeats, from his poem "A Woman Young and Old." It can be understood as either a statement of faith or a philosophical riddle related to the formation of the self.
Looking for the Face I Had Before the World Was Made opens January 29, 2009 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. The exhibition is sponsored in part by Amber & Michael Fries, Emily Sinclair & Jay Kenney, and MCA Denver's Director's Vision Society.
Image: Michaël Borremans. Ghost (III) (detail), 2009, oil on canvas. Photo by Peter Cox. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.