Galerie Nathalie Obadia is very pleased to present the sixth solo exhibition of the Belgian artist Sophie Kuijken in its Brussels gallery. The exhibition presents the artist's latest paintings, which manifest her irrevocable taste for the art of portraiture.
Sophie Kuijken's work, which remained undiscovered for almost 20 years, was brought out of the shadows for the first time in 2011 at the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Deurle (Ghent- BE). As a whole, it constitutes a highly singular contribution to the art of portraiture. If the artist had not met Joost Declercq (the former director of the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens), we would probably never have seen her works with their captivatingly strange figures that appear surprisingly familiar. This retreat to the inner world of her studio, painting out of sight, has enabled her to create a powerful body of work that not only confuses but also touches the viewer, right down to the core.
The exhibition presents the artist's latest paintings, which manifest her irrevocable taste for the art of portraiture. At first glance, the viewer recognises classical figures painted in the manner of the great Flemish Primitives. Sophie Kuijken builds up her bodies and backgrounds through successive thin layers of acrylic paint, oil and glaze, which she superimposes until she achieves a smooth and deep surface. The history of art seems to permeate the paintings in the exhibition through some of the details and attributes in them. The many brushstrokes, both precise and light, are delicately applied to the wooden panel and create deliberate morphological deformations. In some paintings, the silhouettes are stretched out and the raw flesh tones evoke the mannerisms of the Renaissance. The neutral background of her portraits, their tight framing and the powerful chiaroscuro that shapes her figures also recall the art of Caravaggio.
Although Sophie Kuijken's works are technically flawless and finely crafted, her paintings are permeated by an elusive quality. The artist's classical influences collide with her highly contemporary artistic approach. Indeed, the artist composes her portraits from a combination of several photographs that she collects from the internet. Each character finds its singularity in the accumulation of plural identities carefully selected by the painter. Sophie Kuijken's new subjects, lost until now in the relentless flow of digital data, assume their rightful place within the painting, set in a time that seems close to eternity. Their gazes, fixed and impenetrable, come to life under the artist's stroke: a hidden vulnerability, a lively emotion, emerge under their formal attire. In this way, these artificially reconstructed figures constitute an original counterpoint to the history of portraiture, which is intrinsically linked to the live model. This multiplication of sources, this unique dispersion of the subject, creates a diffuse mystery: that of a half-familiar, half-chimeric figure, flirting with the bizarre, the unknown. The portraits take on the form of veritable allegories of the mystery of existence and stand before their fellow human beings who look at them – or at themselves, as in a mirror.
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About Galerie Nathalie Obadia
Since the opening of the first gallery in Paris in 1993, followed by the second gallery in Brussels in 2008 and a third gallery in Paris in 2013, Nathalie Obadia has exhibited emerging and recognized artists of the international contemporary art scene. In the fall of 2021, Galerie Nathalie Obadia has opened a new space in the Matignon-Saint-Honoré district in Paris. For many years, the gallery has also participated in the rediscovery of deceased artists such as Martin Barré, Josep Grau-Garriga, or Seydou Keita.
Galerie Nathalie Obadia Opening Hours
DURING BGW : Thu 11 am > 9 pm Fri - Sat 11am - 7pm - Sun 11am - 6pm OTHER Tuesday - Saturday 10 am - 6 pm