Michaël Borremans

Stranger Than Fiction

Ahead of his presentation at the 21st Biennale of Sydney, the celebrated Belgian painter Michaël Borremans sits down with VAULT to talk about the slippery relationship between reality and representation and the contradictions that animate his spellbinding work.

By Lucie Reeves-Smith MAY 2018

Publicly funded art events provide a rare platform for artists to exhibit their most daring and subversive works. By removing the commercial requirements that inevitably come with gallery exhibitions, artists have a unique opportunity to show works different from those that constitute their typical bread and butter. This opportunity can also provide a change in perspective for the artist and their audience.

Michaël Borremans has achieved just this. In an unexpected change of program, the contemporary figurative artist has not included any of his paintings in the 21st edition of the Biennale of Sydney. In their place, he is showing a series of drawings, sculptures and video works, whose interactions, he hopes, will shed light on his creative process and defining themes. Borremans lives and works in Ghent, Belgium and this is his first time exhibiting in Australia. He laughs that it is perhaps not the best introduction of his work to fresh Australian audiences. “I should have shown paintings!” he says.

In a darkened corner of Artspace’s ground-floor exhibition space, Borremans shines single spotlights on works selected exclusively from his personal archive. The artist is excited to present a theatrical display of old and new works vastly different from all the other “clean museum shows” of his résumé. His aim is to highlight the reciprocal interaction between his paintings and drawings, for which he is well known, and his more recent forays into sculpture and video work.

Many of Borremans’ works defy clear categorisation, straddling multiple genres and styles. “I don’t tend to analyse it, because I work ... Subscribe to read this article in full


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Bendigo Art Gallery MCA Roslyn Oxley Gallery AGSA Art Gallery of New South WalesGovett Brewster