In the XV and XVI centuries, Dutch and Flemish painters created a symbolic hyperrealist painting genre known as Vanitas.
Inspired by the opening lines of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible: ‘Vanity of vanities, said the Preacher,vanity of vanities, all is vanity’, those paintings depict still-lives, luxury objects, skulls and flowers aiming toraise awareness of the shortness and fragility of life and the vanity (in the sense of worthlessness) of worldly pleasures and ambitions. The ambivalent presence of these paintings – the moral approach is shadowed by the skillfully painted compositions, as if the artists could overcome death by giving permanence to the ephemeral – recall painting’s primordial role as recording-devices of a certain time and luxury-goods that lastcenturies. The polished and seductive atmosphere of these images reminds us of our own bodies’ finitude while offering sparkling promises of a lustful existence.
Nowadays, the question of which artistic medium one takes up has become a critical issue. In this exhibition, we plan to investigate the reasons why very little has changed since the 1600s regarding painting’s allure, social status (and market value) and mysterious power by assembling together the work of several artists, hailing from many different backgrounds and different times, who insist on painting. We will depart from Vanitas and medieval Danse Macabre imagery in its aim to recognize frivolity and mortality as subject matter to highlight the riveting and obscure aspects of this infamous media.
Focusing more on the perception of these genres rather than their actual iconography, the exhibition intends to be, in fact, a gloomy experience as visitors weave their way through the heady and metaphysical atmosphere of the Nightfall. What is on view is the result of a pursuit for unrivaled, bewitching, heretical, cryptic, unorthodox, ulterior – or nearly impossible – forms of expression.
Participating artists: Lucas Arruda, Semiha Berksoy, Pedro Caetano, Miriam Cahn, Tony Camargo, Jake & DinosChapman, Monster Chetwynd, Adriano Costa, Tiago Carneiro da Cunha, René Daniëls, Enrico David, VincentDesiderio, Eliza Douglas, Nicole Eisenman, Bracha L. Ettinger, Celia Hempton, Rodrigo Hernández, Jacquelinede Jong, Sanya Kantarovsky, Allison Katz, Sanam Khatibi, Stanislava Kovalcikova, Patricia Leite, Maria Loboda,Patrizio di Massimo, Dawn Mellor, Daniele Milvio, Paulina Olowska, Osman Yousefzada, Santiago de Paoli,Rodolpho Parigi, Nicolas Party, Paulo Nimer Pjota, Autumn Ramsey, Mathilde Rosier, Giangiacomo Rossetti,Josh Smith, Lucy Stein, Gokula Stoffel, Emily Sundblad, Walter Swennen, Dorothea Tanning, Erika Verzutti,Kathleen White, Issy Wood, Amelie von Wulffen, Mark Van Yetter, Jakub Julian Ziółkowski.