“I’m not interested in simulating reality, otherwise I would probably have gone into film, as a set designer. I would like to interpret the world by creating fictional settings where we can perceive the echo of reality.” –Hans Op de Beeck
The Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck (born in Turnhout in 1969, lives in Brussels) works with almost all available artistic media. Be it for his sculptures or expansive installations, his large-format watercolours or videos and animated films, he avails masterfully of the staging strategies of theatre, film and architecture so as to create atmospherically dense, dream-like images that always seem familiar and yet alien.
In the very special atmosphere of the Baroque moated castle in Morsbroich, Op de Beeck is presenting a broad selection of his works of the past 12 years. He has created a series of open stages which the viewer can enter—partly on foot, but always in his mind—and be transported into a world where reality and fiction become superimposed and where time seems to stand still: The Silent Castle. Visitors encounter life-sized plaster figures, quite naturally, as if they were at home in the castle’s former living spaces. Like the visitors themselves, they stand on soft carpets, resting, lost in thought or daydreaming. The carpets cushion the footsteps and muffle the sounds. Their grey colour blends with the reduced palette of Op de Beeck’s sculptural still lifes. Here, life pauses for a moment, giving rise to an atmosphere of concentration, intimacy and contemplation.
Hans Op de Beeck creates places of silence, scenarios in which the viewer can immerse himself or which he can fill with associations and memories of his own. But these works also create a subtle tension. The piano is silent, the kiddie rides in front of the supermarket are stationary, water lilies conceal the uncanny depths of the black lake, and yet something surprising could happen at any moment, be it solely in our minds.
The video Staging Silence (2) (2013) visualises the transience of those moments full of poetry. Using all kinds of accessories, such as cotton wool or sugar cubes, and even more astonishing effects, the video shows us whole landscapes—that disappear just as quickly. By contrast, the animated film Night Time (2015) relies completely on the comforting hours of night when we become reconciled with ourselves again. The rooms presented in that film are abandoned like the empty sets of his installations. They overwhelm or enchant the viewer, house him, and ultimately confront him with himself.Continue Reading..