The Best Shows to See During Antwerp Art Weekend

A roundup of exhibitions on during the fifth edition of the Antwerp art weekend

BY Kadish Morris in Critic's Guides | 17 MAY 19

Miyeon Lee, Mother’s Color Mountain, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 40 cm. Courtesy: the artist and TICKTACK, Antwerp

Miyeon Lee
Tick Tack
4 May – 9 June

Offering an alternative to traditional landscape painting, Miyeon Lee depicts the scenery of Mathon, a small village in the Swiss Alps, by approaching the serenity of nature with a graphic sensibility. In her solo show ‘Immigrant’s Eyes & Changing Landscapes’ at TICK TACK – and the gallery’s inaugural exhibition – Lee presents a series of recent works including paintings, sculpture and a mural. This is Lee’s first solo show in Europe and she cites ‘the practice of seeing’ as a main research tool. Her observant walks around Mathon, as well as the six months she spent in Limburg, confined within the borders of Belgium as she awaited a visa, have resulted in bright and intimate artworks that embody the artist’s experience of navigating Europe as an immigrant. Using thick black outlines, expansive shapes and bold colours, at the heart of these works is her visceral connection to the environment around her.

Elena Aya Bundurakis, Sclera, 2019, photograph. Courtesy: the artist and Tique, Antwerp

‘Intimate Structures #2’
Tique Art Space
9 May – 1 June

How easily can a photograph capture the intensity of an intimate moment? At Tique Art Space, an exhibition titled ‘Intimate Structures #2’ sees four artists – Romy Alizée, Elena Aya Bundurakis, Valentina Stellino and Dinaya Waeyaert – join efforts to present images that capture raw and tender moments between people. Thanks to social media, we’re no strangers to others’s ‘private’ lives, yet, despite our overexposure to such scenes, there’s something gratifying about pulling back the curtain and witnessing an unguarded moment. A mother, breastfeeding, two lovers engrossed in an erotic kiss, an old man eating from his hospital room, a crying woman atop her bed, Alizée, Bundurakis, Stellino and Waeyaert candidly extract the realest moments from our everyday lives and reveal something unadulterated about their subjects and also themselves. Perhaps we are constantly seeking heightened feelings, whether to experience or to gaze upon.

‘KUNST KUNST KUNST’, 2019, installation view, Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp. Courtesy: the artists and Tim Van Laere Gallery, Antwerp

Tim Van Laere Gallery
20 April – 19 May

In the group exhibition ‘KUNST KUNST KUNST’, Adrian Ghenie, Jonathan Meese and Rinus Van de Velde put on display large-scale paintings and sculptures in an expansive showcase of striking works. Ghenie’s complex and multi-layered paintings are led by his fascination with European history. He combines macabre scenes of violent events with a sense of fantasy to muddy the waters between the past and present. Meese, who is best known for his exuberant installations and performance, doesn’t shy away from grandeur. Impressive and intricately detailed bronze sculptures appear throughout the exhibition space alongside expressive and wordy works based around Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851). Van de Velde’s works bring a different tone and palette to the group show. His charcoal drawings and hand-painted ceramic prop sculptures, which form a part of a constructed universe, have a tenderness to them that requires unhurried observation.

Ann Veronica Janssens, VI Eclipse Side, Turkey, 2006, film still. Courtesy: the artist and Micheline Szwajcer

Ann Veronica Janssens
Micheline Szwajcer
3 May – 29 June

Light, its splendour, its speed, its distribution and its absence is something of great involuntary interest to the human eye. It’s a hypnotic force that is absorbent and fascinating and Ann Veronica Janssens’s installation at GMS reminds us of its eternal power. Presenting ‘Eclipse Ensemble’ (2019) an installation of seven videos of total solar eclipses from Nashville, Tennessee to Shanghai and two radiant colour projections, the gallery space is transformed into a transcendent realm in which the richness of the universe is fore-fronted. Here, we see the unparalleled beauty of light and how it effortlessly embodies the celestial. Janssens’s translucent work is about the sensory experience and interrogating the properties of matter and physical phenomena. This display is minimal, but nonetheless awakening. After being drawn to the lucid colours that glow throughout the gallery space like a moth to a lamp, the curiosity that is evoked when you engage with astronomy lingers indefinitely.

Hedwig Houben, Borborygmus, 2017, performance documentation. Courtesy: the artist and M HKA, Antwerp; photgraph: Els Soenen

Hedwig Houben
18 May – 25 August

In her first solo exhibition in Belguim, Houben presents a new work titled Phewzlopffffffff (2019), a performance and script ‘comprising a dialogue on the relations between a set of characters – a series of plaster sculptures named ‘Homer’, a character called ‘Body’ performed by the artist, and the audience in a role named ‘X’’. Houben’s practice is concerned with our relationship and interaction with objects and how they contribute to the construction of selfhood. Dialogue is at the core of what Houben produces and the videos that document her work sees the artist talking to herself and the sculpture she is making. In this exhibition, Houben records the emotions felt by her parents-in-law who lived alongside a ‘conspicuous’ artwork she placed in their home in the work De Freule en de Gladiool (The Mistress and the Gladiola, 2017). Also on display is Borborygmus (2017), which uses ‘onomatopoeic noises to portray the internal digestion’ of one of her imagined characters.

Hannah Darabi, Reconstructions 2 : Revolution, 1978-1979, 2018. Courtesy: the artist and FoMu

Hannah Darabi
1 March – 9 June

Iranian artist Hannah Darabi’s collection of photography and political literature marking the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution is on display at FoMu. ‘Enghelab Street, A Revolution through Books. Iran 1979-1983’ draws attention to works published between 1979 and 1983, a period which saw the genesis of the Islamic government in Iran. Darabi, who was born in 1981, also ‘reconstructs’ this same period using her own photographs of her hometown Tehran alongside postcards, collected quotes, TV screenshots and family portraits. This process is a way of collecting her research findings from this intense political period, a time that was fundamental to the development of the country’s stance on freedom of speech and also Iranian photography.

Oxana Shachko, Untitled, tempera, egg yolk, gold leaf and wood. Courtesy: Estate Oxana Shachko and Geukens & De Vil

‘Over My Dead Body’
Geukens & De Vil
16 May – 15 June

Using natural materials such as blood, milk, egg yolk and gold, female artists Oxana Shachko, Sofie Muller and Katya Ev explore women’s bodies, using a photo print titled Over my dead body (1988 – 2005) by British-Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum as a springboard. Oxana Shachko puts forward her feminist icons and centres her work around radically posing the female body in direct opposition to dogmatic patriarchal frameworks with a series of works that bear resemblance to traditional religious paintings. Anthropomorphic drawings by Muller are filled with lifeless limbs in red blood summoning a feeling of discomfort. Her carnal paintings on alabaster, in which she uses her own blood as a material, are inspired by traditional pagan offerings and further the menacing mood of the show. Lastly, French-Russian artist Ev has filled a wooden bed frame with milk in Untitled (le silence du dôme) (2019) as a metaphor for life, nutrition, intimacy, vulnerability, sickness, death: i.e the beginning and the end.

Main image: Hannah Darabi, Reconstructions 3 « Cleaning up » the opposition, 1980-1983, 2018, mixed media. Courtesy: the artist and FoMu

Kadish Morris is editorial assistant and staff writer of frieze, based in London, UK.