270108: BA-CA Kunstforum: The Kiss of the Sphinx- Symbolism in Belgium

BA-CA Kunstforum: The Kiss of the Sphinx – Symbolism in Belgium “Conceptualize an idea into a sensual format” We still have difficulties with 19th century art. Only the Impressionists and their immediate ambit are considered as socially accepted and blessed by their followers of the Modernist movement as “formally innovative”, while art works created by the academies and salons still carry the as being “almost worthless”. Symbolism lies somewhere in between these two ratings – neither fish nor fowl – even if everyone is conscious of its wide-ranging relevance. However, its objective, literary form often inhibits that this knowledge is utilized. Even Kandinsky’s, Kupka’s and Mondrian’s early symbolic works are much less valued than their abstract paintings – although the abstraction, like the Expressionism, can be deviated from Symbolism. Alongside England and France, Belgium greatly contributed to the abundance of the different symbolist manifestations. Literary symbolism was created both in Belgium as well as France. Fernand Khnopff’s elegant mythological individualism, James Ensor’s biting and discerning Primitivism or Félicien Rops pornographic caricatures are all unique expressions within a subjective, powerful display of the reflective art of the human psyche’s dark sides. In his Symbolist Manifesto (1886) the French poet Jean Moréas, described this as “conceptualizing an idea into a sensual format”. One could also call them paintings characterized by the discomfort in a secularized, progress-belief orientated time of upheaval. The entire affluence of Belgian symbolic painting and graphics is displayed in this exhibit. Among one of the most important paintings displayed is the portrait of Margeurite Khnopff in a white dress, painted by her brother Fernand, the “high mystic from Brussels” (Ludwig Hevesi). The artist idolized and staged this painting for many years. Félicien Rops’ blasphemous “Temptation of St. Antonius”, showing a beautiful, nude woman crucified and worshiped by the horrified St. Antonius, as well as the graphic “Pornocrates”, depicting a half nude demimonde beauty, eyes covered and holding a pig on the lead. George Minne’s dainty boy’s sculpture “Small relic carrier” as well as works by less well-known artists such as Léon Fréderic or Henry de Groux’ are also displayed. BA-CA Kunstforum 1010 Vienna, Freyung 8, until 03.02.08

BA-CA Kunstforum
1010 Wien, Freyung 8
Tel: +43 (1) 537 33/10-17
Email: office@kunstforum-wien.at

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