Following the Venice Biennale, this spring BOZAR
welcomes the much-acclaimed exhibition by the artist duo Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys.
After passing through a steel fence the visitor finds himself in a closed world, a kind of underworld inhabited by 22 dolls. About ten of them are automated and make repetitive movements. The others, immobile, gaze into the distance. They are all mute, ashen-faced and locked into a kind of immutable trance. Condemned to an eternal monotonous existence from which there is no escape; though it is hard to imagine that any such desire exists within these creatures.
On the walls, by way of distraction, a number of coloured line drawings hang as if a vague reflection of a surface world. Prints of humorous and disturbing scenes alternate with idyllic representations of bygone times.
The exhibition can be seen as a Contemporary Museum of Folk Art in which the human form is on show. A human form that feels safe in a closed world and that has built a society in which inertia and apathy reign supreme.
Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys are seasoned artists in the creation of fictions filtered through hyper reality. They are intrigued by modern society's state of psychosis. Their works of art are the expression of this constant angst.
In the fantasy of De Gruyter & Thys, these dolls come to life after dark when an employee at the Centre for Fine Arts locks up the steel fence for the night. They then wander the halls and gaze with a certain wonder at the pictures on the walls until the sun rises on another day.
In 2019, MONDO CANE could be seen at the Belgian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale with Anne-Claire Schmitz as curator. It was given an honourable mention by the jury.
For over thirty years, the artists Jos de Gruyter (°1965) and Harald Thys (°1965) have created a body of work whose rigour and consistency are rare. Their collaboration has given birth to a highly singular language that distinguishes itself in our dense contemporary visual culture not just by its tonality, but also by its disconcerting insistence and normality. Together, the artists make films, drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures in which we find characters, objects and spaces that are at once ultraidentifiable and non-authoritarian.
Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys have had numerous solo exhibitions at institutions including Konkurs Eksperten at Kunsthal Aarhus (2018); White Suprematism at Portikus Frankfurt and CAC Vilnius (2016); Im Reich der Sonnenfinsternis at MCA Chicago; Fine Arts at MOMA PS1 New York; Die schmutzigen Puppen von Pommern at The Power Station Dallas and Tram 3 at CCA Wattis San Francisco (2015); Das Wunder des Lebens at Kunsthalle Wien (2014) ; Optimundus at M HKA Antwerp (2013), Projekt 13 at Kunsthalle Basel (2010). The artists were included in the 55th Venice Biennale (2013) and the 5th Berlin Biennale (2008).