M Leuven Presents Solo Show by Belgian Artist Nel Aerts

Wednesday, October 23, 2019
M Leuven Presents Solo Show by Belgian Artist Nel Aerts

Starting on 25 October 2019, M is presenting a solo exhibition by the Belgian artist Nel Aerts (1987, Turnhout). Aerts transformes the architecture of the hall and thus introduces her own universe into the museum. The exhibition brings together both older and new work, including a series of new sculptures that Aerts is exhibiting for the first time.

Image: Nel Aerts, 'Welcome To The World Of The Snake Charmer', 2019 © PLUS-ONE Gallery, courtesy the artist

 

Starting on 25 October 2019, M is presenting a solo exhibition by the Belgian artist Nel Aerts (1987, Turnhout). Aerts transformes the architecture of the hall and thus introduces her own universe into the museum. The exhibition brings together both older and new work, including a series of new sculptures that Aerts is exhibiting for the first time.

 

Nel Aerts, 'Welcome To The World Of The Snake Charmer', 2019 © PLUS-ONE Gallery, courtesy the artist

 

Nel Aerts
The practice of Nel Aerts (1987, Turnhout) is not limited to one medium. Although the emphasis seems to be on painting, her work includes collages, drawings, sculptures and textiles, as well as animations, videos and performances. Her distinctly figurative work is often populated by tragicomic figures rendered in simple lines and blocks of colour. On the walls of M these characters masquerade as the audience for a snake-shaped stage in the midst of the exhibition space.

The Waddle Show; a counteract
The Waddle Show; a counteract embodies the idea of the solo exhibition as a kind of fabrication, a highly symbolic snapshot. Aerts conceives of this exhibition as a “show”, a theatrical setting, a consciously constructed and artificial context.

The centrepiece of The Waddle Show; a counteract is a collage of a snake charmer (Der Schlangenbeschwörer, 2019), an allegorical manifestation of the artist, a serpentine doppelgänger. Der Schlangenbeschwörer was the title of an exhibition at Kunsthalle Lingen in Germany earlier this year, where the charmer’s textile version figured prominently. At M, a snake-charmer-shaped hole in the wall quite literally forms the entrance to the show. The shape of the meandering snake returns in a couple of new paintings and in the central construction traversing the space. The sides of the stage are covered with textiles, suggesting another dimension of theatricality: the distinction between the stage and the offstage.

 

Nel Aerts, 'De boeteprocessie van N. Dobbermans', 2011-2019 © Carl Freedman Gallery, courtesy the artist

 

The Waddle Works
Here, Aerts shows her Waddle Works: a new series of sculptures, stacks of a wide variety of collectibles and curiosa. Although sculpture is not a prominent medium in her practice, the stacked constructions are literal markers of time past, composed as they are from ready-made objects that lay dormant in her studio for years. It’s a motley crew of assembled knickknacks: a Royco soup bowl; a Hawaiian coconut handbag; a plastic Frankenstein cup. The Waddle Show is the first time these sculptures materialise, uniting the disparate objects into new relations. The “waddling” emphasises their fragility and precarious balance. The sculptures embody a process of risk and possible failure.

 

Installation view from the exhibition ‘The Waddle Show; a counteract’ by Nel Aerts at M Leuven, 2019. Photo © Miles Fischler

 

Also on show is a series of sketches — diary drawings in small, carbon-papered notebooks — which are a constant in Aerts’ practice. They form an image stream of thoughts flowing into each other. Five of these booklets are on display; a brand new artist’s book collects all the drawings.

Monograph
On the occasion of this exhibition, M and Triangle Books are publishing Aerts’ first monograph. It’s an overview of ten years of painting; at once an artist’s book and a catalogue raisonné. The publication includes contributions by several friends – artists and writers – each of whom has selected a particular painting to discuss. It also features two in-depth texts by Valerie Verhack and Dominic van den Boogerd, accompanied by a personal and instinctive selection of paintings by Aerts herself.

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Image of the Day

David Hockney"Dancers VII*" 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 72"©, David Hockney, Photo Credit: Richard SchmidtPhoto: © David Hockney / Richard Schmidt, Courtesy of Pace Gallery

David Hockney"Dancers VII*" 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 72"©, David Hockney, Photo Credit: Richard SchmidtPhoto: © David Hockney / Richard Schmidt, Courtesy of Pace Gallery

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