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Press Release

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Simon Gheeraert
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
02.07.2021 > 11.07.2021

There is something about the strange monolith in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Just some months ago, most probably a collective of unknown artists planted a replica in the desolate desert of California, in that way igniting a media fuelled fascination for an alien and highly advanced power that could have possibly placed it there. We just can’t seem to shake it off, our deep-rooted craving for mysteries. However, aside from the replica, it is definitely Kubrick’s real merit to have made visible a rather difficult thing to put one’s finger on: an uncanny suspicion that a supernatural, elusive and external force is actually responsible for our technological growth, something deeply inhuman ingrained in the core of our being. He attains this by monumentalizing this puzzling force into the skin of cinema by ways of a gigantic fallic sculpture filling the screen, thereby giving the technological sublime a supernatural, mythical look. But what would happen if, instead of the extraordinary, the same sublime exposed itself in the heart of the ordinary?

All works on view in the show somehow depict ordinary objects bathing in chromatic magic and seductive hyperrealism. What they all have in common, is that they point back at 17th century still life painting in which rhopography, the minutious rendering of the everyday (from rhopos, trivial objects) replaced megalography, the depiction of grand religious scenes and majestic historical key events. It was exactly in that same century that Portugese sailors used the word feitiço to refer to the fiery worshipping of random material objects by tribes inhabiting the Guinea coast of Africa. So when profane, banal objects fill up the frames of 17th century painters - pop artists avant la lettre so to speak - it is not so much because these objects speak to us in a hidden allegorical alphabet, but mainly because they are erotically aroused by a fetish for visibility tout court. And what other medium than painting could be better to visualize this voyeuristic fetish, seen that for centuries the canvas and its pigments have been drenched in the holy water of religious symbolics and the supernatural. From now of on the sensory skin of the everyday - as it appears through 17th century painting - emits a magical aura.

Nowadays, there’s no doubt that for most of us God has irrevocably left the stage, but the holy hasn’t dissapeared out of our hearts. On the opposite, there is something to be said about the sacred as being firmly rooted in the banal texture of the everyday, and that definitely with a technological tinge. Already in the sixties the term ‘spectacle’ pointed in this direction: the material reconstruction of the religious illusion, a capitalism on steroids, so much in overdrive that it becomes an image of the world, an image of paradise on earth in which the sadomasochistic ‘God dominates men’ is swapped with ‘machine dominates men’. Now what the works in the show solidify is precisely this: that razor-sharp, amoral beauty of the spectacular sublime, that unattainable paradise residing in the fibres of the everyday that once in a while pops up in front of our eyes and mostly doesn’t last longer than the wing-stroke of a butterfly.