Architectures and landscapes invented by Hans Op de Beeck oscillate between reality and fiction. The Flemish artist opens Centquatre Paris doors of some of his parallel worlds, inviting the viewer to animate the stories by the force of his imagination.
For Centquatre, Op de Beeck created “The Settlement”, a monumental installation in monochrome gray includes fifteen compact houses on stilts, connected by wooden scaffolding several moored boats, piers and accessories such as undulating flames, fishing nets, dead wood, as well as utensils and furniture items. It is a sculptural work in every sense. The artist has inserted the houses in an artificial pond. An abstract background – a large empty wall placed in the background – invites the viewer to observe the fictional village initially far as a front horizon, an imaginary scene, a sort of capture cinematic screen in three dimensions . The whole scene is strongly referring to the cinema tradition, framed image, and the city of Pompeii, paralyzed and frozen in time. Nevertheless, this quiet and quaint village, as a fictional home for a small imaginary community and all kinds of stories, is contemporary in appearance, as if he was still inhabited. The work brings out the romantic and idyllic notion of the colony, while evoking the daily struggle with the elements endured by people living in archipelagos.
The work is a sculptural installation “Caravan” almost real scale of a night scene in a fictional and snowy urban area. Probably located somewhere between two business buildings, an absent protagonist seems to have held its own habitat: a small decrepit caravan with a campfire before and accessories that one might associate with someone who improvises his life in a forsaken place between the waste. A light is on in the caravan, the invisible protagonist perhaps there. This film scene is both romantic and cozy, yet tough and lonely, referring to people living in precarious city, forced to reinvent or redefine themselves, improvising a life with what can be gleaned.
“The Lounge” facility is a carved evocation and real scale of a neoclassical hotel bar, with a large window, a sofa and a large quantity of accessories, such as books, empty soda cans, candles, butts filled ashtrays, pizza boxes, beer bottles, old cell phones, laptops, clothes worn … the set looks like a giant memento mori, with references to the classic symbols of the Vanities in painting, as well as everyday objects we use in everyday life (post) modern. The use of light in the work is painterly, referring to the great masters such as Vermeer. The monochrome gray scene is made entirely by hand. The gray tone ash and cumbersome plaster objects make it all extremely silent and inert.
The film Op de Beeck “Staging Silence (2)” addresses the abstract and archetypal notions that remain in the memory of the artist, as a common denominator of many similar public spaces experienced by Op de Beeck. The video images themselves are extremely simple and banal, yet serious and dark, echoing the eclectic mix of images in our minds. The choice to shoot in black and white reinforces this ambiguity: the theatrical approach of the video evokes the legacy of slapstick, while the insidious suspense and latent derailment of the film refers to the film noir genre. The title recalls the staging of abandoned scenery where, in the absence of characters, the viewer can project himself as the sole protagonist.
The animated film “Night Time (extended)” is a dark and enigmatic film without text, based on a large series of monochrome monumental watercolors gradually realized by Op de Beeck on the last five years, over its other multidisciplinary projects. All the watercolors were painted by the artist of night, in a total state of solitude and concentration. This nocturnal atmosphere is a tangible presence in the metropolitan landscapes in images of nature, buildings, interiors and figures which the artist breathes life into the film. “Night Time (extended)” is designed as a mysterious and disturbing dream in which proportions, perspectives and environments are fictitious while universals.