FREEKWAMBACQ’s work investigates the complex relations between sculpture, installation
and architecture. Including found materials and objects, it can be seen in the context of Minimal
Art and Arte Povera, whose intellectual pretence it undermines with distinctively subtle
humour. Wambacq’s installations, which contain numerous references to the history of modern
art, question the conditions of artistic creation and presentation by means of a suggestive
approach echoed by an acute sense of irony and carefully staged arrangements.
An inveterate bricoleur (Claude Lévi-Strauss), Wambacq never creates from scratch but falls
back on existing material, which he appropriates for a new purpose through a series of surprising
combinations. His work takes its cue from common, everyday materials, which it reinterprets
and presents in new contexts.
Wambacq’s practice draws on DIY techniques, historic hobbyists’ manuals, handicraft catalogues
and jumble sales displays, resulting in a highly diverse sculptural vernacular that
takes the shape of heaps, stacks, pedestals and racks (as in an eponymous series of works
started in 2002) accumulated from objects which are indiscriminately sourced from nature or
the nearest DIY shop. Garden hoses, wooden frames, bric-a-brac, sea shells or the gnarled root
of an African tree thus gather to form aesthetically challenging arrangements, which invaribably make reference to the object’s initial functionality while unfolding complex stories, social
commentaries or art-historical connections.
Übst Du noch, oder spielst Du schon? brings together work created during the artist’s residency
in Berlin. In the context of this solo exhibition, the individual pieces – whose titles, as is
common for Wambacq’s work, provide important clues for their understanding – assemble
like the pieces of a puzzle to create a multilayered entity.
For his exhibition at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Wambacq also devised his first large-scale
mural. Covering an entire wall of the gallery space, this graffiti relies on the so-called ‘piss
technique’, in which the paint is randomly projected onto the surface using a fire extinguisher.
By doing so, it challenges the very definition of art and the conditions of its creation –
questions which, regarding the piss technique, are also the subject of heated debate within
the sprayer scene.
After its presentation in Berlin, the exhibition Übst Du noch, oder spielst Du schon? is scheduled
to travel to Museum M in Louvain, Belgium, where it will be on display from 24 February
to 15 May 2011 (www.mleuven.be).
FREEKWAMBACQ, born 1978 in Belgium, lives and works in Brussels and Berlin.
Selected exhibitions: Etablissement d’en face, Brussels ; KunstNu Galerie at SMAK, Ghent;
Poëziezomer Watou, Belgium; Artissima Art Fair, Turin, Italy; Künstlerhaus Dortmund,
Germany. Wambacq has recently been short-listed for the renowned Ariane De Rothschild
Art Prize and the Young Belgian Painters Award 2011 (exhibition from 9 June to 13 September
at Bozar, Brussels; www.jongebelgischeschilderkunst.be).
Freek Wambacq is currently an artist in residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien as a grantee of
the Flemish Government, Brussels.