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Venice Biennale - Stibbe Lounge

IRMGARD SPECK - an exhibition by Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys

Exhibition presented in the Stibbe Lounge

In anticipation of their commission at the Belgian Pavilion in Venice this year, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys present a series of small sculptural heads made of plaster, fake hair and paint in the lounge of fair partner Stibbe.

The faces are placed on small shelves throughout the space. The 3D-printed plaster faces of international politicians, dictators, B-movie actors, friends, publicly known recognisable figures, murderers and victims, living as well as dead historical people, are presented without any hierarchy or moral judgment. No matter their historical importance or role, they all appear equal - equally frightening and equally innocent - flat, motionless and stereotyped.

A booklet with individual biographies and photographs of all characters and their stories accompanies the presentation.

Jos de Gruyter (b. 1965) and Harald Thys (b. 1966) live in Brussels and have been working together since the late 1980s. The artist duo creates films, drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures in which hyper-recognisable and non-authoritarian characters, objects and spaces exist simultaneously. They have the habit of distilling fictions out of a reality that is, sometimes, ‘too real.’ Both willingly concede that they feel attracted to the psychotic state of contemporary societies, a state that they simultaneously dread and disseminate in their work. Without ever descending into cynicism or morality, they succeed – with skill, and not without humour – in transforming what looks like fear or a state of latency into something voluntary and critical that goes beyond the status quo.

De Gruyter and Thys had numerous solo exhibitions at institutions including ‘Konkurs Eksperten’ at Kunsthal Aarhus (2018); ‘White Suprematism’ at Portikus Frankfurt and CAC Vilnius (2016); ‘Im Reich der Sonnenfinsternis’ at MCA Chicago; ‘Fine Arts’ at MOMA PS1 New York; ‘Die schmutzige Puppen von Pommern’ at The Power Station Dallas and ‘Tram 3’ at CCA Wattis San Francisco (2015); ‘Das Wunder des Lebens' at Kunsthalle Wien (2014); ‘Optimundus’ at M HKA Antwerp (2013); ‘Projekt 13’ at Kunsthalle Basel (2010). The artists were included in the Venice Biennale (2013) and the Berlin Biennale (2008). In 2019 Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys represent Belgium at the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia with the exhibition MONDO CANE curated by Anne-Claire Schmitz and commissioned by Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles.

Art Brussels is a proud friend of the Belgian Pavillion.
With the indispensable support of Stibbe.

58th International Art Exhibition
La Biennale di Venezia

11 May to 24 November 2019
Belgian Pavilion
Mondo Cane
By Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys
Curated by Anne-Claire Schmitz

Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Irmgard Speck, 2018, 43 x 20.5 x 20.5cm
Plaster, paint, mixed media, Courtesy of the artists and dépendance, Brussels, Image by Kåre Viemose

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