MICHAËL BORREMANS, Sweet Disposition. Signed, painted in 2003. Estimate $500,000 - 700,000 on Phillips 20TH CENTURY & CONTEMPORARY ART NY evening sale on 16 November.
The highly acclaimed Belgian painter Michaël Borremans, is renowned for his ability to tread the line between realism and the surreal. As a painter from the Flemish north, Borremans is keenly aware of the art historical perspective this medium carries, and his style is heavily influenced by past masters from Manet to Velázquez. He notes, “All the imagery of the 20th century and earlier is baggage we have to deal with. My work is an answer to that, a dialogue with that.” ("Michaël Borremans and David Coggins,"Art in America, March 2009, pp. 89-90) Borremans deals with this “baggage” by refreshing his works with elements of ambiguity, mystery and tension. Whereas traditional portraiture often showed well-known characters and aimed to depict their personalities, Borremans uses nameless stereotypes, thus undermining the function of portraiture. Such depersonalized, ghostly figures are placed in indistinguishable surroundings, and, as a result, his paintings possess a strange unease between his painterly style and the surreal atmosphere of the pieces which challenges the sense of realism imposed by his predecessors.
Michaël Borremans’ Sweet Disposition is a closely cropped depiction of a woman, perhaps a seamstress or carpenter, hunched over her work, the deep shadows obscuring any sense of individuality, locality, or temporality. Having originally studied photography and film, Borremans imbues his paintings with a sense of narrative, but does seemingly all he can to subvert and destroy any defined or strictly logical reading of his pictures. Much as with a film still, the painting delves into a psychological moment experienced by its character and translates inexplicable emotions onto canvas. Straddling the thin line between reality and a dream world, it remains unclear what exactly the figure here is doing.
MICHAËL BORREMANS, Sweet Disposition. Signed, titled and dated "MICHAËL M.C.G. BORREMANS SWEET|DISPOSITION 2003"on the reverse. Oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 31 1/2 in. (60 x 80 cm.). Painted in 2003. Estimate $500,000 - 700,000
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