< Exhibitions
Restoring the abyss
Fabrice Samyn
Oct 31, 2008 - Dec 6, 2008

For his first solo exhibition at the gallery, the young Belgian artist Fabrice SAMYN (°1981) has decided to exhibit his work under the generic title Restoring the Abyss. How can the unfathomable abyss be restored? His work is rooted in the very heart of this questioning, of this quest for reconciliation of an apparent paradox.

In this first room, the large black and white photographs are enlargements of Adam and Eve's navels. These details are taken from
paintings by old masters such as Hans Baldung Grien or Rubens and evoke the mystery of our origin, whether cosmic, foetal or cellular. Furthermore, the artist invites us to ask ourselves the following question: "Are Adam and Eve with a navel not a paradox for the original couple?"

When the artist unveils the shape of a frame that underlies an 18th century painting representing Saint John and the open book in the passage of the logos "And the Word became flesh", he questions both representation and the link with the material that makes it possible. The modernist credo "The medium is the message", chosen as the title of the work, is perhaps not opposed in the end to the complex reasoning of Christian representations.

As for the coccyx carved in rock crystal (Beyond the Sacrum), one could see in it the trophy of pure reason, placing us in the logical sequence of a fatalistic natural selection (the coccyx is the assembly of the atrophied vertebrae remaining from the tail of the monkey). But this piece of evidence, once inverted (a position it will take once our body is in the lethal position), takes the form of a stupa or a pagoda which, as reliquaries, were the first representations of the Buddha, the incarnation of enlightenment. Here, the paten is emptied of its host and from this emptiness a new form is born.

Absence is also underlined in the series of photographs of ancient headless statues in which a desert landscape is revealed, a place with great meditative potential.

The photographic series Virgin, for its part, captures moments of illumination where the sun's rays flood the surface of religious paintings with light to the point of preventing any reading of the work. At the same time, the representation is annulled but also invested with a strong symbolic charge (for example, in the case of The Annunciation).

The portraits painted in oil question representation by evoking blur, wear and tear, glare and dust. In Saint Sébastien soigné par Irène, Fabrice Samyn concentrates on reproducing details of flames painted by Georges de La Tour (1593-1652). Light is thus the very subject of the painting. Beyond this crucial theme, he is interested in the notion of original and copy since these two flames are details from paintings kept in the Louvre and in Berlin; each museum considers its work as the original of the master.

In the videobox, the image of a glass is filmed and reprojected, thus constituting a complex mise en abyme.

In general, the question of origin runs through the artist's work in an essential way, whether it be the origin of a light, of a first being, of a creator, god or artist, of a painting or of a tomb.