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WIELS presents the work of René Daniels in a major exhibition: Fragments from an Unfinished Novel
Installation view. © René Daniëls Foundation.


BRUSSELS.- WIELS is devoting a wide-ranging exhibition to the Dutch artist René Daniëls (1950). This is an opportunity for visitors to discover a number of historic paintings, some of which have been restored specially for the exhibition and have never before been presented in public. An extensive selection of drawings complete the exhibition, offering a better understanding of how the artist’s vocabulary evolved. Paintings and drawings are being displayed over two floors of WIELS, tracing the career of this leading artist and exploring the relationship between perception and memory that lies at the heart of René Daniëls’ pictorial reflection.

René Daniëls is a key figure in the history of art of the second half of the twentieth century. His career began in the late 1970s, at a time when painting was being rediscovered. The artist stood out thanks to an original, idiosyncratic idiom. He did not hesitate to experiment with different pictorial styles, combining elements borrowed from surrealism and references to the literature and counterculture of the day, all the while integrating recurrent motifs. Like a composer, Daniëls created variations on a theme. Starting from 1984, one motif in particular played a predominant role: that of an exhibition space seen in perspective. He reproduced this form in numerous compositions where he employed mirror effects, juxtapositions or changes of orientation. In late 1987, a stroke put an abrupt end to his blossoming career.

Inspired by the title of one of the few texts written by Daniëls, the exhibition Fragments from an Unfinished Novel looks back on the development of the artist’s visual language, with a focus on the phenomenon of déjà vu. Relying on visual games such as duplication, the painting-within-a-painting, fragmentation, stratification and erasure, Daniëls gives us images of incredible poetic and conceptual force, images that bear witness to art on the frontier between the visible and the invisible, seeing and knowing, perception and imagination, reality and fiction.

The exhibition at WIELS is accompanied by an important monograph devoted to René Daniëls. For this reference work, designed by Mevis & van Deursen and published jointly by Fonds Mercator and Koenig Books, various authors have been invited: Devrim Bayar (curator at WIELS), Paul Bernard (curator at Mamco), Angela Bartholomew (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Jordan Kantor (California College of Art).

René Daniëls, born in 1950 in Eindhoven (the Netherlands) is a pivotal figure in the art of the second half of the twentieth century. His work, consisting of paintings and drawings, is stylistically diverse: Daniëls is influenced on the one hand by the counterculture of the 70s and 80s and on the other hand by artists such as René Magritte, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia and Marcel Broodthaers. Since 1978, his work was regularly showed in important international group exhibitions (Documenta 7, 1982; 11th Paris Biennale, 1980; 27th São Paulo Biennale, 1983) and solo exhibitions (Kunsthalle Bern, 1987; Camden Arts Center, 2010; Museo Nacional Centro the Arte Reina Sofía; Van Abbemuseum, both 2011). In 1987, the artist suffered a stroke, which had a major impact on his career. Since 2007 he started painting and drawing again.





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