Michael Borremans - Portrait

Michael Borremans /   Michaël Borremans

Belgium 1963

Sculpture, Painting

Michael Borremans
Michaël Borremans
March 24, 2017
Music, Gestalt, .

Michaël Borremans is a Belgian artist, whose paintings, drawings, sculptures, and films do not leave anyone indifferent. His work seems to flirt with different style and epochs, taking elements from art history, to which he adds modern and surrealist details, leaving an odd and sometimes creepy impression. This approach, he explains, has to do with his personality, representing his view on the world, life, and humanity- showing both sides of the medal, the beautiful and the ugly one. His paintings are described as faceless and lifelessness because portraits usually capture and show person’s character, and Borremans has no interest in psychology. His idea is that viewers focus on the art itself, leaving no room for wondering what the subject is really like. The creation of confusion and emptiness, by hiding some parts and not giving enough data, reminds of the scenes from Hitchcock’s movies and makes the image remain vibrant.

Michaël Borremans - sign and use of new arts work from belgian david zwirner in dallas home, zeno, 2017
Michaël Borremans – Black Mould, The Dance, 2015 – Photo via iriedaily.de

Michaël Borremans’ Education and Influences

The artist was born in 1963 in Geraardsbergen, Belgium. He studied photography at the College of Arts and Sciences Saint Luke in Ghent. After graduation, Michaël started to explore painting and drawing, through which he expressed his creativity and imagination. The author owes a lot to the Old Masters whose techniques he accepted and adapted to his favor. The influence of the Diego Velazquez, Manet Edouard, and John Singer Sargent are seen in the way he uses glaze and lighting effect in his paintings. The way in which Borremans isolates people and objects in his works points out to surrealists like Rene Magritte. Drawings of strange, and amusing buildings, and moody videos just confirm the ease with which it was made. The accent on the medium in compositions and techniques is associated with contemporary artists Gerhard Richter and Luc Tuymans. As the artist admits, he tries to reflect what’s in our collective consciousness, but also in history. In this manner, he communicates with the audience in a subtle, yet very emotional way. His pieces are permeated with allusions of the Catholic Church, the Ku Klux Klan, ISIS, nuns, and similar stuff.

The way in which Borremans isolates people and objects in his works, points out to surrealists

Michaël Borremans - sign and contact new york angel work of dallas, march privacy news
Michaël Borremans – The Devils Dress, 2011 – Photo copyright of Ron Amstutz and the Zeno X Gallery

The Magic that Comes from Photographs

The use of oil paints, allows the artist to create complex shapes that vary from gentle fluidity to expressed solidity. The basic material Michaël uses in most of the cases is a photograph, which he makes himself. The whole scene is carefully prepared, including the position of the model, composition, and the light. The author reverses the common perception when the painting looks like photography and explains that his photographs look like paintings with the help of cameras. His art also pertains to statues, so he experimented for a while with the sculptures. The simplicity is the focal point in keeping the control over the process of creation. Unlike painting, drawing makes him feel free, as pencil and paper give unlimited possibilities. Borremans pays a lot of attention to the impact and psychological effect that his pieces produce and leave the viewers. Very disturbing and confusing images like The Pupils from 2001, The False Head, and Angel from 2013, cause unique memories, emotions and feelings, depending on the viewer’s perspective and experience. The figures in these works are without identity and referring to the typical subjects that merge with each other.

The author reverses the common perception when painting looks like photography, and explains that his photographs look like paintings with the help of cameras

Michaël Borremans - new york home news, privacy in march 2002
Michaël Borremans – Trickland, 2002 – Photo via curatingthecontemporary.org

Diverse Mediums and Exhibitions

Considered a pioneer of combining image and the motion, he makes films that consist of slow-paced series of images with very little movement and progression, if any. Before meeting Jan Van Imschoot, Borremans was a teacher at the Secondary Municipal Art Institute of Ghent, after which he had his first major exhibition at the Zeno X gallery in Antwerp. Since then his art has been displayed in numerous galleries and museums around the world like at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2015 with the show named As sweet as it gets, or The Advantage show from 2014 at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. Michaël’s work is held in public collections internationally, including The Art Institute of Chicago, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and in many other prominent museums worldwide.

The artist lives and works in Ghent, Belgium.

Featured image: Michaël Borremans – Portrait – Photo via pinterest
All images used for illustrative purposes only

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Michael BorremansZeno X Gallery, Antwerp, BelgiumSolo
2016Campaign for ArtSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco, USAGroup
2016Once in a LifetimeOude Kerk, Amsterdam, NetherlandsGroup
2015Michael Borremans, CAC Malaga, Malaga (ES)Solo
2015As sweet as it gets, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas (US)Solo
2015The Importance of Being…, Museo de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro (BR)Group
2015The Problem of God, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen, Düsseldorf (DE)Group
2015The Importance of Being…, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Buenos Aires (AR)Group
2015The Importance of Being…, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana (CU)Group
2014As sweet as it gets, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv (IL)Solo
2014As sweet as it gets, BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (BE)Solo
2014Michaël Borremans, Ryosokuin Temple, Kyoto (JP)Solo
2014Girl with Hands, Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo (JP)Solo
2014The Advantage, Hara Museum, Tokyo (JP)Solo
2014The Sea, Salut dHonneur Jan Hoet, Different locations, Ostend (BE)Group
2014Passions Secretes, Private Flamish Collections, Lille3000, Lille (FR)Group
2014De Vierkantigste Rechthoek, Kunsthal KAde, Amersfoort (NL)Group
2014Words Bites Picture, Design Matters, Los Angeles (US)Group
2014Hoge Horizon - Bruegelland, vroeg 21ste eeuw, Stedelijk Museum, Lier (BE)Group
2014Panopticum, Robert Miller Gallery, New York (US)Group
2014Dries Van Noten, Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris (FR)Group
2014Propaganda für die Wirklichkeit Propaganda for Reality, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen (DE)Group
2013The people from the future are not to be trusted, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp (BE)Solo
2013The Prelude Pathétique, Universiteitsbibliotheek KU Leuven, Leuven (BE)Group
2013Middle Gate , various locations, Geel (BE)Group
2013In Between. Inner and Outer Landscapes, Kasteel van Gaasbeek, Gaasbeek (BE)Group
2013BAZAAR België, Centrale for contemporary art, Brussels (BE)Group
2013Visions. An atmosphere of change , Marta Herford Museum, Herford (DE)Group
2013Opening New Space, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp Borgerhout (BE)Group
2013Painting Between the Lines, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown (US)Group
2013The Roving Eye: Aura & the Contemporary Portrait, Oakland University Art Gallery, Rochester (US)Group
2012Magnetics, BAWAG Contemporary, Vienna (AT)Solo
2012Biënnal of Yinchuan, Tian Ye Art Museum, Yinchuan (CN)Group
2012Facture and Fidelity: Painting Between Abstraction and Figuration, 1945 - 2010, Wexner center for the arts, Columbus (US)Group
2012Biënnale van de schilderkunst: De mens in beeld, Roger Raveelmuseum, Zulte - Machelen (BE)Group
2012The Museum Collects, The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford (US)Group
2012Sint-Jan, Sint-Baafs Kathedraal, Ghent (BE)Group
2012Flatland Redux, Centro Cultural Vila Flor, Guimaraes (PT)Group
2012Track, various locations, Ghent (BE)Group
2012Contour On Tour, De Loketten van het Vlaams Parlement, Brussels (BE)Group
2012Paintings from the Rubell Family Collection, Fundacion Banco Santanders museum, Boadilla (Madrid) (ES)Group
2011The Devil s Dress, David Zwirner, New York (US)Solo
2011Eating the Beard, Kunsthalle Helsinki (FI)Solo
2011Eating the Beard , Mücsarnok Kunsthalle Budapest (HU)Solo
2011Eating the Beard, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart (DE)Solo
2011Painting Between the Lines, CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco (US)Group
2011MärklinWorld, Kunsthal KAde, Amersfoort (NL)Group
2011Sleeping Beauties, Kasteel van Gaasbeek, Gaasbeek (BE)Group
2011Yokohama Triennale, Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama (JP)Group
2011Tra - Edge of Becoming, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice (IT)Group
2011Tous cannibales, me Collectors Room, Berlin (DE)Group
2011Berlinaire, Vooruit, Ghent (BE)Group
2011Ten Oosten van 4°24, Muhka, Antwerp (BE)Group
2011Tous cannibales, La Maison Rouge, Paris (FR)Group
2010Eating the Beard, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo (NO)Solo
2010Eating the Beard, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp (BE)Solo
2010Commission for the Belgian Queen, Royal Palace, Brussels (BE)Solo
2010Looking for the face I had before the world was made, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (US)Solo
2010The Power of Drawing, Galerie Geukens & De Vil, Antwerpen (BE)Group
2010Compass in Hand: Selections from the Judith Rotschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, Institut Valencià dArt Modern, Valencia Group
2010Ordinary Madness, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (US)Group
2010UnSpooling - Artists & Cinema, Cornerhouse, Manchester (GB)Group
2010Coup de ville. Een chambres damis voor de 21ste eeuw, Sint-Niklaas (BE)Group
2010Invisible Shadow - Images of Uncertainty, Marta, Herford (DE)Group
2010Stillmoving, Israel Museum, Jerusalem (IL)Group
2010False Recognition. 14th Vilnius Painting Triennal, Center of Contemporary Art, Vilnius (LT)Group
2010Until Now: Collecting the New (1960-2010), Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis (US)Group
2009Automat, Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (DE)Solo
2009Taking Turns, David Zwirner, New York (US)Solo
2009Benches & Binoculars, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (US)Group
2009The end of the line: attitudes in drawing, The Fruitmarket, Edinburgh (UK)Group
2009Slow Paintings, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen (DE)Group
2009Automatic Cities: The Architectural Imaginary in Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (US)Group
2009The end of the line: attitudes in drawing, City Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol (UK)Group
2009Contour 2009. 4th Biennal of Moving Image, stadscentrum, Mechelen (BE)Group
2009FADING, Museum van Elsene, Elsene (BE)Group
2009In-finitum, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice (IT)Group
2009Mapping the Studio, Palazzo Grassi, Venice (IT)Group
2009Private Universes, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas (US)Group
2009The end of the line: attitudes in drawing, The Bluecoat, Liverpool (UK)Group
2009Compass in Hand: Selections from the Judith Rotschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, MOMA, New York (US)Group
2009JEUGDZONDE. Over opus één en opus min één, LLS 387, Antwerp (BE)Group
2009The end of the line: attitudes in drawing, Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough (UK)Group
2008Ausstellung zum Overbeck Preis für Bildende Kunst der Gemeinützigen 2008, Overbeck Gesellschaft Lübeck (DE)Solo
2008Earthlight Room, Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo (JP)Solo
2008Painted Fruit, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp (BE)Solo
2008Veldwerk, Centro de Artes Visuais, Coimbra (PT)Solo
2008The Eternal Flame, Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel (CH)Group
2008Memories of Tomorrow: Works from the UBS Art Collection, Shanghai Art Museum, Shangai (CN)Group
2008Eclipse - Art in a Dark Age, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (SE)Group
2008PopEye: The art of music The music of art, Oude Gevangenis, Hasselt (BE)Group
2008Locked-in, Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg (LU)Group
2008Women portraits, Overbeck Gesellschaft, Lübeck (DE)Group
2008The Hands of Art, Martha Herford Museum, Herford (DE)Group
2008Size Matters: XS - Recent Small-Scale Paintings, Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN (US)Group
2008Collecting Collections: Highlights from the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, MOCA, Los Angeles (US)Group
2008The Hands of Art, S.M.A.K., Gent (BE)Group
2007Veldwerk, De Appel, Amsterdam (NL)Solo
2007Gashoven 07: zonevreemd, CC Het Gasthuis, Aarschot (BE)Group
2007As I Am You Will Be: The Skeleton in Modern Art, Cheim & Read, New York, NY (US)Group
2007Size Matters: XS - Recent Small-Scale Paintings, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY (US)Group
2007Artempo: Where time becomes art, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice (IT)Group
2007Old School, Hauser and Wirth, London (GB)Group
2007Hammer Contemporary Collection - Part II, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (US)Group
2007Comfort Discomfort, Stedelijk Museum, s Hertogenbosch (NL)Group
2007Works on paper, Zeno X Gallery & Zeno X Storage, Antwerp (BE)Group
2006Horse Hunting, David Zwirner Gallery, New York (US)Solo
2006Brainbox - Unit 4, Croxhapox, Gent (BE)Group
200625 years Zeno X Gallery, Zeno X Gallery & Zeno X Storage, Antwerp (BE)Group
2006MUTE, Hofstraat 2, Antwerp (BE)Group
2006Leeftijdgenoten, Roger Roveelmuseum, Machelen-aan-de-Leie (BE)Group
2006A Brighter Day, James Cohan Gallery, New York (US)Group
2006Back to the Figure Zurück zur Figur, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich (DE)Group
2006reverence, The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, New York, NY (US)Group
2006Michaël Borremans, Fernando Bryce, Dan Perjovschi. Drawings, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart (DE)Group
2006Of Mice and Men - Berlin Biennale, Berlin (DE)Group
2006New Acquisitions, SF MOMA, San Francisco (US)Group
2006Collectiepresentatie - nieuwe aanwinsten, S.M.A.K., Gent (BE)Group
2006ARS 06 exhibition, Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA, Helsinki (FI)Group
2005The Performance, The Royal Hibernian Academy, Gallagher Gallery, Dublin (IR)Solo
2005Hallucination and Reality, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland (US)Solo
2005The Performance , Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London (UK)Solo
2005An Unintended Performance, S.M.A.K., Gent (BE)Solo
2005Pijn, Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent (BE)Group
2005Drawings from the Modern, 1975-2005, MOMA, New York, NY (US)Group
2005Slow Art: Zeitgenössische Kunst aus Flandern und den Niederlandent, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (DE)Group
2005(...) the duck was still alive, Abbaye Saint-André, Centre dArt Contemporain, Meymac (FR)Group
2005STRATA. Difference and Repitition, Fondazione Davide Halevim, Milan (IT)Group
2005Visionair België, cest arrivé près de chez nous , Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussel (BE)Group
2004Zeichnungen, Museum Für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (CH)Solo
2004Four Fairies, Kunsthalle Bremerhaven, Bremerhaven (DE)Solo
2004Fisherman s Luck, Zeno X Storage - Borgerhout, Antwerp (BE)Solo
2004Drafting Deceit, Apexart, New York (US)Group
2004Manifesta 5, European Biennale of Contemporary Art, San Sebastian (ES)Group
2004Zie Tekening, Project Voorkamer, Stedelijk Museum Wuyts-Van Campen & Baron Caroly, Lier (BE)Group
2003Trickland, David Zwirner Gallery, New York (US)Solo
2003Comme des Garçons, seven exhibitions on various locations (Moscow, Zürich, Belin, Milan, Madrid, London, New York)Group
2003Neue werke im Kupferstichkabinett, Offentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Basel (CH)Group
2003Gelijk het leven is, 50 jaar Belgische en Internationale kunst uit de collectie, S.M.A.K., Ghent (BE)Group
2003Apparitions, Musée des beaux-arts de Tourcoing, Tourcoing (FR)Group
2002Young and Innocent, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp (BE)Solo
2002Pertaining to Painting, Austin Museum of Art, Austin, Texas (US)Group
2002Pertaining to Painting, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas (US)Group
2002The House of Fiction, Sammlung Hauser & Wirth, St. Gallen (CH)Group
2001Works on paper, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp (BE)Group
2000Was Rubens een dribbelaar?, Cultureel Centrum, Berchem (BE)Group
1999The Fetish Paintings, Croxhapoxruimte, Ghent (BE)Solo
1999(With) Drawings into 2000, Van Laere Contemporary Art, Antwerp (BE)Group
1998The Mind and its Limit, In den Bouw, Kalken (BE)Solo
1997Cerebral Office, Voorkamer, Lier (BE)Solo
1997Alom & Hiernevens, Zwartzustersklooster (Project van Voorkamer VZW), Lier (BE)Group
1997Schilderkunst-Hedendaags-Belgisch, Croxhapox, Ghent (BE)Group