SMAK Contemporary Art Museum – Gent Belgium

As a New Yorker it’s difficult not to compare other museums with our world class museums, and in this case, SMAK Contemporary Art Museum in Gent holds its own as an innovative space showcasing European contemporary talent.

At the entrance to the museum you will find SMAK publications called “The Artist in Their Own Words,” which are magazine style printings of interviews with artists who have had shows at SMAK.

Below are some photographs I took of the works on view now, but if you are in Gent and interested in contemporary art, SMAK is a must-see destination.

—————————————————————————————-

KOEN THEYS – Home Made Victories

I was particularly excited about the ground floor galleries dedicated to the work of Belgian artist Koen Theys. The exhibition, “Home Made Victories” is the first major retrospective for the artist and includes extensive use of compelling video and photography and will be on view until mid-August 2013.

.

Still Life with Apples

Still Life with Apples

Above: Koen Theys photograph, Still Life with Apples II, 2010

.

Series, Still Life with Apples - Koen Theys, 2010

Series, Still Life with Apples – Koen Theys, 2010

.

This photograph I took is a small detail portion of a larger "collage" framed photograph by Koen Theys

This photograph I took is a small detail portion of a larger “collage” framed photograph by Koen Theys

The image above is kind of hard to explain, but I’ll try. Koen Theys creates large tableaux photographs where he carefully assembles thousands of objects like clocks, skulls, books, candles, old computer equipment and various other items he uses in these works.

The photograph I took, is a tiny portion of one of these tableaux photographs because unless I took a small part of the image and blew it up there would be no way to see the detail.

Another thing I cannot show, but which I thought was extremely interesting, he set up a video camera on a trolly and slowly rolled the camera through the tableaux, and then showed this video in another room adjacent to where the large-scale photographs were displayed.

This extremely innovative use of technology, photography and found objects made for an extraordinarily compelling viewing experience.

It's not really possible to see the details of this Koen Theys collage but this is the entire image

It’s not really possible to see the details of this Koen Theys collage but this is the entire image

————————————————————————————–

The upper floor exhibitions had a variety of sculpture, painting and photography too, some more thought provoking to me than others, but all worth seeing.

A sample of other items on view at SMAK…

Sculpture: three grotesques holding a pencil, a paint brush and a screwdriver

Sculpture: three grotesques holding a pencil, a paint brush and a screwdriver

This sculpture of three artists features grotesque heads, and the artist’s arms are bound one to the other so they cannot move, or ever see one another. The description of the sculpture suggests their poses are like samurai warriors with their pencil, paint brush and screwdriver stuck into their belts like swords.

.

Framed photographs of grotesque head sculptures

Framed photographs of grotesque head sculptures

These framed photographs of grotesque head sculptures was also a part of this exhibit. Text describing these items suggested that some of the heads were modeled loosely on some European politicians.

.

Horse hide sculpture - a provocative display of what looks like two decapitated horses

Horse hide sculpture – a provocative display of what looks like two decapitated horses

.

Mark Manders - MomentenMachine

Mark Manders – MomentenMachine

.

This installation features classic art hanging on the walls with grocery shelves of old sacks of flour and other staples blocking the view

This installation features classic art hanging on the walls with grocery shelves of old sacks of flour and other staples blocking the view

This detail view of the installation shows the classic art seen through the shelving and its contents

This detail view of the installation shows the classic art seen through the shelving and its contents

 

Advertisements

6 Responses

  1. Looks like SMAK does display some innovative and very contemporary art. A lot of it looks very interesting.

    • Hi Otto, thanks for the comment. Yes, I was really impressed with the variety of work they had on view when I visited. It’s certainly worth going there to see the exhibitions.

      I wish I had had more time to visit the art and photography galleries in Gent (there are quite a few) because then I would have met and spoken to gallerists there… but unfortunately I did not give myself enough time to do it.

      The next time I visit Gent I will make sure I give myself more time.

      • I often pass by The Netherland and Belgium, and will make sure to visit some of the art and photo galleries i Gent next time.

        • Okay, in that case Otto, I haven’t had enough time to do my write up of FOAM yet… but there is a contemporary photography museum in Amsterdam worth seeing too. It’s a small museum and the gallery space is intimate, but the Stephen Gill show I saw there was impressive. I want to do a write up on it when I do my “full scale review” of the art I saw in Amsterdam.

          It’s funny, I “only” spent 9 days on the ground and while I was there I didn’t know if I’d have much to write about – but now that I’m back it seems like the topics are endless! lol

          As for Gent, you will really enjoy it there. The architecture is amazing.

  2. […] SMAK Contemporary Art Museum – Gent Belgium (cdeminski.wordpress.com) […]

  3. […] SMAK Contemporary Art Museum – Gent Belgium (cdeminski.wordpress.com) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: