Jan De Cock “Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis” at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany / MOUSSE CONTEMPORARY ART MAGAZINE

Jan De Cock “Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis” at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany

by mousse

March 12~2012

The Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden and the Stadtmuseum in Baden-Baden jointly present a grand exhibition of entirely new works by the Belgian artist Jan De Cock. In the show, the artist who was born in 1976, unfolds a complex, interlocking system of fragments, changing the perfect white rooms of the Kunsthalle and the glass pavillion of the Stadtmuseum into a landscape of splintered units that seemingly has neither a point of departure, nor one of arrival.

For the exhibition six artist books have been published: Saturation, Spectacle,Value, Imitation, Fanatism and Overcome. These are the respective titles of the books, each of which will be allocated to an exhibition room. In the series of “Cahiers”, as the artist calls them, these symptomatic terms will be linked to moments in the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, thereby suggesting her biography as the recurring theme which connects the dots in the exhibition. As a grand icon of a bygone era, she constitutes an imaginary projection plane for the Romantic yearnings and desires of the 21st century. Jan De Cock even describes the whole exhibition as a romantic undertaking, and thereby intentionally provokes a contrast between the mental images evoked by the title as well as the “Cahiers” and by the complex surfaces of his sculptural compositions.

The works shown in the exhibition were made using industrially produced materials. A series of sculptures named as Romantische Skulpturen consists of grand steel profile frames measuring nearly three by three meters, upon which precisely crafted layers of coated wood and other materials have been attached. The works bring to mind expansive objects from former series by the artist, that now seem to have been shoved against the wall. In other words entire rooms have been transformed into reliefs. Located in front of these reliefs, other sculptures reproduce fragments of architectural elements. Individual staircases appear, or a tilted pedestal that still seems to be attached to a section of the floor from the artist’s studio. By compressing complete rooms into reliefs the artist has diminished the distance between the studio and the gallery, compressing both into one space.

Time and again the above-mentioned fragments reappear in the exhibition, supplemented by others, like an architectural ornament, accurately cut wooden modules or the traces of a plaster cast. Some of these variations are developed into new forms, so that the spectator is forced to attempt to decode the spatial compositions of each room separately. Through a constant interplay of suggested references and a negation to specify and substantiate, the artist creates an improvisational “modus operandi” that exhausts the intellectual freedom of aesthetic discourse to the extreme. As a spectator, one is left to waver from one fragment to the next, in search of the narrative offered by an all encompassing interpretation. Lastly it might be exactly this quest itself, with which the artists manages to map our contemporary crisis-ridden society.

-

at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany

through June 24, 2012

-

Courtesy of Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Germany