“Purity on Its Knees”
January 14 – February 20, 2021
PILEVNELI is pleased to announce its first solo exhibition of Belgian visual artist, theater artist and author Jan Fabre, who is considered as one of the most versatile and influential artists of his generation. Titled “Purity on Its Knees”, the exhibition will feature works from Jan Fabre’s significant series “Tribute to Belgian Congo” and will be on view between January 14 - February 20, 2021.
Over a timespan of two decades of a career, Jan Fabre draws attention with innovative performances as well as artworks made of various unusual materials. In “Tribute to Belgian Congo”, which has been exhibited all around the world and acquired by important Dutch, French, Italian, Russian, Korean museums, the artist focuses on unsettled issues with mosaics made of jewel beetle wing-cases. He used the same technique for the first time at the Royal Palace in Brussels, commissioned by the Queen of Belgium and recently at the Antwerp St. Augustine’s Church, where the artist followed the footsteps of Flemish masters Rubens, Jordaens and Van Dyck. Utilizing visual attraction of nature to his advantage, Jan Fabre tells a different story in each of these works that might be defined as a mixture of painting, wall sculpture and mosaics. On the other hand, with the three- dimensional sculptures of the “Congo” series, the artist reinterprets the remains of animals that have lost their lives in the natural cycle and transforms them into mythological and almost icon-like sculptures.
His mosaics and sculptures made with jewel beetle wing-cases question established symbols. They counter to shallow comments, the story pattern in the background of the works contains a deep criticism. Considering the anti-racist protest that flared up in the past year, it should be noted that Jan Fabre brought to light the dark history of his own country by creating this series of works in 2011 and long before that, in 2001 through his commission ‘Heaven of Delight’ at the Royal Palace in Belgium. In the series, the artist pays homage to the African lands that many European countries, including his own, exploited for the sake of colonialism and imperialism. Fabre’s criticism is reflected in the visual narrative of his works to the technique and material used. The preference of jewel scarabs also carries the same critical purpose, as jewel beetle wing-cases had mystical meanings in many cultures and have been used to make traditional jewelry materializing the bridge between life and death, the eternal cycle of nature.
Millions of iridescent jewel beetles introduce the viewer in a non-existent zone, somewhere between Paradise and Belgian Congo. Distantly attractive and startling when closely approached, the mosaics depict the logos and products of 19th century Belgian industrialists, who committed to a crime solely for the sake of economic profit. Jan Fabre sensitively reveals to all humanity the story behind Belgian Congo and consequently the colonial past of his country; the enslavement of millions of Congolese, the greed of the colonial mindset, the stealing of a country’s riches as much as possible and until there isn’t any left... He transforms native history, criticism, savagery and terrible ambitions into a powerfully artistic form, making use of symbols, iconography and unconventional materials.
Today, Jan Fabre continues his practice as a critic of the past and the sins of his country, and as a courageous reminder of what man can do not to lose his possessions and to achieve what he wants for his selfish motives.
After its opening on January 14th, 2021 between 17.00-19.00, “Purity on Its Knees” will be on view between 10.00-18.00 on weekdays until February 20, 2021.
Night Diary published with the cooperation of PILEVNELI and Doğan Kitap
A two-volume book, “Night Diary” by Jan Fabre, who is also renowned as an author, will be published simultaneously with the exhibition, with collaboration of PILEVNELI and Doğan Kitap. Serving as an autobiography of Fabre, the book contains notes dated between 1978-1984 and 1985-1991, written on art, life, daily life and relationships.
Founder of the theater company Troubleyn in 1986, Jan Fabre’s one-man play “Night Writer”, based on different volumes of his evolving “Night Diary” has been on stage in many countries such as Italy, Russia, France, Serbia, Belgium, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia and has won already 3 important theater awards. The artist’s solo theater/ dance production “Angel of Death”, on the other hand, has met with theater enthusiasts in 2006 within the scope of the 15th Istanbul International Theater Festival and the 4th Theater Olympics.
The exhibition can be viewed at PILEVNELI Dolapdere.
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Corporate contributors; BMW, Jotun and MG International Fragrance Company.