Contemporary Arts Center
Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center
for Contemporary Art
44 E. 6th Street,
Cincinnati, OH 45202
513 345 8400
Visual artist Hans Op de Beeck lives and works in Brussels, where he has developed his career through international exhibitions over the past fifteen years. His work consists of sculptures, installations, video work, photography, animated films, drawings, paintings and writing (short stories). It is his quest for the most effective way of presenting the concrete contents of each work that determines the medium that the artist ultimately selects. The scale can vary from the size of a small watercolour to a large, three-dimensional installation of 300m2.
The artist not only uses a very wide variety of media, but also deliberately employs a diversity of aesthetic forms, ranging from an economical, minimalist visual language to overloaded, exaggerated designs, always with the aim of articulating the content of the work as precisely as possible.
Thematically, the work concentrates on our laborious and problematic relationship with time, space and each other. Op de Beeck shows the viewer non-existent, but identifiable places, moments and characters that appear to have been taken from contemporary everyday life, aiming thereby to capture in his images the tragicomic absurdity of our postmodern existence. Key themes are the disappearance of distances, the disembodiment of the individual and the abstraction of time that have resulted from globalisation and the changes to our living environment that developments in media, automation and technology have brought about.
Hans Op de Beeck sometimes calls his works "proposals"; they are irrefutably fictional, constructed and staged, leaving it up to the viewer whether to take the work seriously, as a sort of parallel reality, or immediately to put it into perspective, as no more than a visual construct. His work is nourished by a keen interest in social and cultural reflection. The artist also questions the difficult relationship between reality and representation, between what we see and what we want to believe, between what is and what we create for ourselves in order to make it easier to deal with our own insignificance and lack of identity. The visual output of that investigation often produces slumbering, insidious, melancholy and astonishing images.
Hans Op de Beeck's film 'Staging Silence (2)' is based around abstract, archetypal settings that lingered in the memory of the artist as the common denominator of the many similar public places he has experienced. The video images themselves are both ridiculous and serious, just like the eclectic mix of pictures in our minds. The decision to film in black and white heightens this ambiguity: the theatre like approach of the video invokes the legacy of slapstick, as well as the insidious suspense and latent derailment of film noir. The title refers to the staging of such dormant decors where, in the absence of people, the spectator can project himself as the lone protagonist.
Memory images are disproportionate mixtures of concrete information and fantasies, and in this film they materialise before the spectator's eyes through anonymous tinkering and improvising hands. Arms and hands appear and disappear at random, manipulating banal objects, scale representations and artificial lighting into alienating yet recognisable locations. These places are no more or less than animated decors for possible stories, evocative visual propositions to the spectator. Op de Beeck's film is accompanied by a score which, inspired by the images themselves, has been composed by composer-musician Scanner (UK).
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