R. H. Quaytman: Modern Subjects, Chapter Zero

508180

10/09/2021 - 09/01/2022

R. H. Quaytman: Modern Subjects, Chapter Zero :: © R. H. Quaytman - The Modern Subjects of Antoine Wiertz. Studies for Chapter Zero, 2020: Mixed media on paper (Detail). Courtesy the artist and Gladstone gallery, New York, Brussels.

For her monographic exhibition at WIELS, R. H. Quaytman explores Brussels’ cultural and artistic history and, more specifically, the relationship to power of some of the artists with whom she shares an affinity, such as Magritte and Broodthaers. In her preparatory research, Quaytman came across the painter Antoine Wiertz and his personal museum, which is now nestled in the heart of the European Quarter. With its unique and spectacular hanging, this museum bears witness to the golden age of monumental painting, which was in the throes of decline in the face of photography and film. Wiertz sought to compensate for this waning with an overabundance of moralising subjects condemning injustice and inequality. He depicted chilling scenes of poverty, war, suicide, or cholera. Now all but forgotten, Wiertz’s work and exuberant museum-sanctuary provide a starting point for Quaytman’s investigation into the possibilities of painting in the context of the photographic image, seen through the prism of Wiertz’s work, which teems with suggestive male bodies while displaying a genuine empathy for the condition of women.

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