Stephan Balleux & Porz An Park. Bounce

Cédric Dambrain, Kaai, installation et vidéoclip, feuille miroir et câble en acier (2020), copyright Cédric Dambrain
Cédric Dambrain, Kaai, installation et vidéoclip, feuille miroir et câble en acier (2020), copyright Cédric Dambrain

Following Cédric Dambrain’s performance within the framework of Stephan Balleux’s monographic exhibition La peinture et son double held at the Musée d’Ixelles in 2014, the two artists wanted to pursue their collaboration by exploring a common field of expression within the same architectural setting: the Museum space at the Botanique. The venue will not only serve as a medium of cohesion between the artists’ two disciplines but also as an indissociable context for their artistic statements.

The exhibition’s title, Bounce, refers to the question of bouncing, to what happens in the process of connecting: an active perception where the spectator is incorporated as an indissociable element of the artistic process.

Conceived as an experiment, this new exhibition identifies the relationship as a key issue in today’s artistic debate.

Porz An Park a.k.a. Cédric Dambrain presents a complex interweaving of sounds broadcast into the venue through directional speakers and reflectors. This intricate tapestry of direct and reflected sound stimuli encourages visitors to explore the spatial structure of the mechanism in conjunction with their own perception. Suspended in the space, the reflectors resemble black monochromes and visually reinforce the effect generated by the sound. They contribute to immerse the visitor in a contemplative confusion where the boundaries between “Self” and “Other” become somewhat blurred.

Stephan Balleux presents several groups of paintings and drawings that interact with each other as though they were at the pinnacle of a pinball game. The supports are manifold: paper, copper, wood, and canvas. The exhibition features large figurative paintings where the organic subjects refer to vital fluidity (a raging sea with no horizon, a laughing parrot, a sun-scorched jungle, an empty nocturnal garden, an enigmatic portrait, a marble sculpture of a god, a hornets’ nest, etc.). Then, the artist proposes a collection of deceptively abstract paintings that spectators have to interpret with their eyes.

The stability of the images and their interpretation are called into question: How do they appear? How do they vanish? How are they perceived and – most importantly – why is the brain constantly trying to interpret them? Deliberately incomplete, most of the paintings are conceived and executed to be completed when they are seen by the spectator. Alongside the paintings, images retrieved and collected from various sources are taken out of their original context. Devoid of any captions, they are subjected to the same game of association and interpretation.

The artworks on display were produced before, during and after the first covid-19 lockdown. The outcome is a complex body of work that echoes the uncertainties and tensions engendered by the pandemic. These different bodies of work are also presented in the three MAGMA venues (Triennale d’art contemporain d’Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve) along with sixty or so pieces, including a 60-metre long continuous canvas. They are also shown at Schaerbeek’s La Maison des Arts within the framework of the “Clouds” exhibition. These different works shed light on the complex, fluid and organic aspect at play in the artist’s oeuvre.