Through the eyes of… Manuel Fadat James Ensor & Alexander Kluge: Visual provocation
The exhibition currently on show is exceptional, both in artistic terms – etched and painted masterpieces by Ensor, videos by Alexander Kluge rarely screened in France – and at the “curatorial” level, because it facilitates the unprecedented meeting between two figures and two bodies of work.
Two epochs, two relationships towards space and society, two visions, two different temperaments, and political and social orientations that diverge, but in similarly troubled contexts. Yet connected nonetheless (around the notion of the “grotesque”, among other things), and falling into a “constellational” genealogy (one of the tenets of the exhibition), whose elements includea distancing from and criticism of human folly and the world in its current state (progressivism, modernism, powers), enacted through images and signs, style and making, line and medium, and through visual provocation.
This dialogue – one of those which brings art history to life – constitutes a fabulous and fantastic occasion to interrogate ourselves as viewers and as subjects. Savouring it to the full, we shall look at the protagonists and their ecosystems, and explore their (political/visual/aesthetic) differences and similarities. We shall then turn our attention, by no means exhaustively, to the iconography of social and political criticism and the use of visual art as a mechanism of restraint revealing the excesses of humankind, all the time remaining as close as possible to our two artists.
Manuel Fadat is an art historian, art critic and independent exhibition curator and also works with the Oudeis team, which he joined in 2012. He is greatly interested in the question of the social and political dimensions in contemporary art. He is an expert in particular on evolutions in glass art and the uses of glass in art. He teaches and writes, and for the past few years has also run major projects with Ecolint, the International School of Geneva.