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Folkert de Jong exhibits bronze sculptures at Middelheim Museum in Antwerp
Folkert de Jong set-up. Copyright and courtesy Studio Folkert de Jong, André Simoens Gallery Knokke, Fons Welters Gallery Amsterdam and James Cohan Gallery New York.

ANTWERP.- Starting today, the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp is showcasing the exhibition Amabilis insania. The Pleasing Delusion (Amabilis insania. De beminnelijke waanzin) by Folkert de Jong. The Dutch artist is presenting 11 new bronze statues with coloured patinas in the open-air museum until 6 April 2014. The layout has an unsettling effect upon the harmony of the sculpture park.

After the group exhibition My Little Paradise (Mijn kleine paradijs), which took place this summer, and earlier showcases by Antony Gormley and Thomas Schütte, Folkert de Jong (1972, the Netherlands) is showing his sculptures at the Hortiflora. Works by the Dutch sculptor are displayed in and around the half-open Het Huis (The House) exhibition pavilion.

Folkert de Jong became famous in the last decade for the masterful sculptures that can be found in exclusive collections around the world. He is not unknown in the Middelheim Museum either. In 2006, when he was still relatively unknown, he took part in the Long Live Sculpture! (Lang Leve Beeldhouwkunst!) group exhibition. He was back a year later for a residency. And now, the open-air museum is offering de Jong a solo project, for which he created a display with new bronze figures. The Amabilis insania. The Pleasing Delusion (Amabilis insania. De beminnelijke waanzin) exhibition is on display in the Hortiflora museum area from 26 October until the beginning of April 2014.

Folkert de Jong’s world is peopled with circus artists, soldiers, art collectors, Indian gods, mountain climbers, little dancers, apes, heads of state, sunbathing girls, happy-go-luckies and skeletons. For his solo exhibition in the Middelheim Museum, de Jong created 11 new bronze statues, in which he experiments with coloured patinas. The layout seems extremely traditional at first glance, but upon closer inspection, it has an unsettling effect upon the harmony of the sculpture park. The artist binds timelessness with decay, art history with his reality, freedom with compulsiveness.

The figurative installations devised by de Jong, which are anchored in the (often mysterious) history or meaning of a location, combine an ironic reference to the Old Masters with a large dose of the present. He brings together historic figures or situations with a contemporary visual language or objects. Fiercely beautiful figures have ambiguous relationships with each other and with their environment. The dark side of human nature is the driving force behind this Dutch artist’s work, like his fascination with the opposition between pomp and circumstance on the one hand and the obscene reverse side of the display of power.

With regard to materials, Folkert de Jong usually goes for mass-produced substances rarely found in art, like polystyrene or composite foam. They are not meant to be eternal, neither are they environmentally friendly: precisely the unsettling properties that interest the artist. The worthless material is given huge appeal thanks to the precise execution of the work and the smart use of colour. For his exhibition at the Middelheim Museum, de Jong has chosen to create a display of eleven new bronze sculptures, both figures and still lifes, that are visible in and around the Het Huis (The House) pavilion.

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