Since his debut, the main aim of Jan Fabre’s research has been to discover the secret of beauty. Precisely this part of the sentence – discovering the secret of beauty – perfectly explains the art of the famous Belgian multidisciplinary artist. Although he is best known for his use of Bic-art (ballpoint drawings), Fabre uses a number of other styles and techniques as well. The London-based Ronchini Gallery is organizing Jan Fabre exhibition that is entitled The Knight of the Night. The exhibition features works spanning from 1992 to 2013, brought together for the first time to form a single narrative centred on courtly romance, one of the pivotal themes in the artist’s oeuvre. The works presented in this exhibition explore the primary preoccupations of the artist’s practice, such as metamorphosis and the relationships between animals and humans, as well as life and death.
Jan Fabre is Antwerp-based artist, who is considered to be one of the most significant artists based in Belgium today. He has been active for more than 35 years, and has created work as an artist and author across theatre and visual arts. In his art, Fabre uses a wide range of art media- drawings, sculpture, installation, film and performance. The artist is particularly interested in the relationships between drawing and sculpture (take a look at our article about understanding and collecting contemporary sculpture). What is central to Fabre’s art is the exploration of the body, from its fragility and defense mechanisms, to a broader observation of the behavior of human beings, and questioning how they will survive in the future. Behind his artistic products we find ideas, such as the centrality of the body in its physiological, intellectual and symbolic aspects; drawing’s leading role as the tool to know the body; and the possibility of interchange (or metamorphosis) between art and science, man and animal, life and death.
The curatorial concept of the exhibition Knight of the Night takes its departure from the performance film Lancelot (2004) which saw Fabre battle against himself in front of the camera for five hours, weighed down in heavy armor in a cold and dark location. Highlights from the exhibition include suits of armor (works from 1997) created from thousands of wing-cases from the iridescent jewel (scarab) beetles. In Salvator Mundi (1998) iron armor, black beetle shells and a spinal column become a single sculpture. Skull sculptures materialize the dreams and nightmares that hover inside this night-time fairy-tale. Human skulls built with colorful mixtures of jewel beetle wing-cases clasp prey such as a taxidermy magpie, leather whips and the iron keys of hell; skulls become messengers of vanity and vigilance with historical references to the Belgian colonization of Congo. The visitors of the show will also have an opportunity to see Fabre’s prolific drawings, characterized by his distinctive use of a Bic ballpoint pen.
Knight of the Night will be Jan Fabre’s first UK solo exhibition. The show perfectly meets the main aims of the Ronchini Gallery, which is to discover and rediscover exceptional artists through presenting curated exhibitions from the gallery’s stable of international artists and beyond. Having in mind this is the first artist’s solo exhibition in the United Kingdom, it is a must see event for all art lovers. The price range for the works exhibited at Ronchini Gallery are between €80,000 - €200,000. The exhibition Knight of the Night will be on view from February 12 until March 19, 2016 at Ronchini Gallery in London.
Featured Images: Jan Fabre - Armour (Leg), 1997, beetles on iron wire, ; Jan Fabre - Armour (Arm), 1997, beetles on iron wire; Jan Fabre - Armour (Breast), 1997, beetles on iron wire; Jan Fabre - Armour (Breast), 1997, beetles on iron wire; Jan Fabre - Skull with Magpie, 2001, mixture of jewel beetle wing-cases, polymers, stuffed bird; Jan Fabre - Salvator Mundi, 1998, buprestids, iron, angel's hair, bones. All images - photo Claudio Abate, courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery
Credit: Jan Fabre, Knight of the Night, Ronchini Gallery, London, 12 February – 19 March 2016, ronchinigallery.com.