Nothing can remain untouched during the Carnival celebration. Jan Fabre opens a door to the darkness of primordial Chaos, reconnecting the living with the dead, through the ancient roots of the Dionysian cults. This is the (popular) wisdom of Belgium told by Jan Fabre, which at Galleria Gaburro until February 12th, stages the unspeakable: a colorful swirl of tongues, phalluses and glittering orifices, in which the power of pulsating bowels takes the form of masks and objects of desire, displayed like a cabinet de curiosités.
Natural finds, such as shells and starfish, are caged in metal and covered with fabric, wood and pigments, to the point of almost losing any physical connotation of their own. Therefore, the erotic charge that they release as sexualized natural objects is literally contained and at the same time exalted, thanks to the sequin disguise.
Through the same procedure we discover the colored pencil drawings hanging on the wall, whose expressive power is amplified by the golden frames and the soft red velvets of the passe-partouts which, like small sensual caskets, preserve and display the miniatures/jewels. In their exquisite technical simplicity, these everyday scenes actually appear overcrowded by hybrid and surreal creatures, with the typical Flemish irony of well-known ancestors such as Hieronymus Bosch.
The itinerary of the exhibition begins with the Mer du Nord Sexuelle Belge (2018) series for a total of fifteen paintings, arranged in a semicircle behind the Virgin, who does not even have a sacred name (The Sexy Belgian Madonna playing with evil, 2018). These are mostly ruddy cherubs who, if on the one hand “watch over” the figure of Mary, as the sacred Christian iconography painted by another famous Flemish artist, Pietro Paolo Rubens (Madonna della Vallicella, 1606-1608), on the other they bring the pagan tradition back to life: in fact, the little Venuses and Cupids emerge from the shells and the sea foam, with not too veiled references to the mythological themes of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
On the other hand, in the Folklore Sexuel Belge series (2017) a very lively parade of floats and processions parades along the long wall, which reviews most of the Belgian traditions linked to the cult of carnival, reinterpreted in a further obscene key (from the Greek os-kénos, that is: which should remain hidden) until the complete abstraction of the Saints, transfigured into great genital organs. If, courtesy of our guests, we ask to activate the sound sculpture Sexy barrel organ (2017) it will really seem to be in the neighborhood.
Jan Fabre, La saggezza del Belgio
02/12/2022 – 12/02/2023
Via Cerva, 25, 20122 Milano
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