What after the apocalypse?

For this post I am staying in Belgium, where artist Willy Van De Velde has been around for quite a while. And, more impressively, without any formal training in the broad artistic field he is working in. His jewellery ranges from big helmets and large neckpieces, to the more recent, smaller sized, rings and bracelets.

Besides the size, there has been no change in the material use, though. As shown in the bracelet above, he is still working with plexiglas (acrylic sheet). Although he has been using this material since the eighties, it still gives the jewel a sense of futurism. Funny how a futuristic looking piece can have a retro feel to it.

The title of the work, “What after the apocalypse?” can be taken quite literally, if you see the round, clear bracelet as a symbol of the world and the descending fire as its’ ending. Your arm can save the world by never taking the bracelet off. The piece has been meticulously made, every scratch is sanded and polished to a smooth, shiny surface. The bracelet has been assembled with neat little screws instead of more messy glue. In this way parts can also be replaced in case of breakage. The result is a graphically strong piece and an apocalypse to my liking, a very clean one!

The exhibition ‘What after the apocalypse?’ is held until the 28th of May at Silke&the Gallery, in Antwerp.


Our vulnerable position

From student work in the last post, to a post about work from someone who has recently graduated. Showing the work from her Masters graduation from Konstfack in Stockholm, Belgian Hannah Joris created an installation with 99 brooches. They are all made from the same material, dried potato and iron! She carved the potatoes and hung them to dry, pierced by the iron brooch-pin. That way the potato shrinks around the iron, and becomes a compact, strong mass. To her, every potato represents a person, which is why she carved them into body-like shapes. Similar to what happens when people age, the shapes shriveled up, looking like they suffered while doing so. This is what Hannah Joris wants to show, although not the actual suffering, aging, shrinking and shriveling. But the vulnerable expression the shapes obtain, and beauty that results from it.

About half of the 99 brooches are on display, enough to come across as one group. Which is the way I saw the work. As I got closer I could separate the individual brooches, their similarities and differences. The different colors came from the different kinds of potato, vaguely resembling wood. The different shapes came from the way they were carved and dried. I could recognize their expressions. I could see the suffering, aging, wrinkling and vulnerability, and, with some, even the beauty of that. Some were quite touching, others daunting, and some possibly cute! The material used looked right, the shapes looked very natural, (because of their color?) I had the feeling I was looking at something very special, not at something as ordinary as a potato. Not one second it crossed my mind that I was looking at food. The familiarity of the shapes to the human shape was well done, and eating them would feel like cannibalism!

The brooches are exhibited specially for the ‘Art Brussels’ fair, at Caroline Van Hoek Gallery, in Brussels, Belgium.