Heartbreak Hotel is the first major exhibition outside Belgium of the Vanhaerents Collection. Set to take place on the occasion of the 56th Venice Biennale, Heartbreak Hotel will be on view at the Zuecca Project Space, one of Venice’s leading cultural institutions, from May 6 through September 15.
In recognition of his significance as the Collection’s founder, Walter Vanhaerents, who celebrates his 70th birthday this year, has been appointed as the curator of this prestigious exhibition.
Keeping in line with the Collection’s traditions, this theme-based presentation immediately draws its title from pop music history. Inspired by the evocative and high-strung lyrics of Elvis Presley’s 1956 song, Walter Vanhaerents selected fifteen or so sizeable works from the Collection, which combine visual tension, a strong physical presence and conceptual vigour, whilst reverberating closely with the ideas and sentiments as expressed through this evergreen piece of rock ‘n roll music.
Structured as a dialogue between works by artists from different backgrounds and generations, Heartbreak Hotel explores notions of melancholy, physical suffering and martyrdom. The exhibition conjures up historical images of warfare and contemporary forms of religious practices, in contrast to an Arcadian realm of waving palm trees, amusing clown figures and leisure ladies in sophisticated, lush surroundings. Throughout its course, the exhibition touches on issues of art collecting, as it confronts an impatient collector with his adversary, an unpredictable dealer in devilish attire – soliciting the question: in whose favour will the balance ultimately shift?