Two years after the success of Piètas at the Venice Biennale, Jan Fabre is transforming Galerie Templon into a funeral parlour. The gallery space will play host to a pair of effigies in Carrare marble accompanied by sculptures depicting brains inhabited by insects and plants. Having previously tackled the subject of pièta, Jan Fabre now turns his attention to the secular tradition of displaying death.
Fabre pays homage to two figures whose discoveries enlightened the 20th century: Elizabeth Caroline Crosby (1918-1983), an American neuro-anatomist, and Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989), an Austrian biologist and zoologist. As a fervent advocate of inter-disciplinary dialogue, Jan Fabre has already addressed the neurosciences, primarily in his film Is the brain the most sexy part of the body?
If funerary sculptures invite us to meditate on the vanity of existence, the settings created by Jan Fabre question humanity’s ties with nature and its own nature. The brain, seat of intelligence and creativity, appears as a protector, a possible guide to the beyond. Insects—butterflies, bees, spiders and beetles—adopt the function traditionally reserved for dogs or lions in royal sepulchres, posed at the effigies’ feet: the promise of resurrection.
Born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1958, Jan Fabre has been known for his work as a theatre practitioner and visual artist since the late 1990s. His interest in the performing arts dates back to 1976, and he started to work as a director and choreographer in 1980. Since then, he has created some thirty pieces combining dance and theatre, whose radical approach is a frequent source of controversy, such as Je suis sang (2000) and L’Orgie de la Tolérance (2009). In May 2013, he will be presenting The Tragedy of a Friendship, exploring the friendship between Nietzsche and Wagner, at the Théâtre de la Ville à Paris.
An inveterate sketcher, Jan Fabre creates sculptures, model and installations that bring his core preoccupations to life: metamorphosis, or the artist as a warrior of beauty. Some of the most noteworthy solo exhibitions of his work include those at the Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst in Antwerp in 2006, and the Musée du Louvre in 2008. In recent years, he has been exhibited at the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands (Hortus/Corpus, 2011), the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and the Musée d’Art Moderne in St Etienne, France (Jan Fabre. Les années de l’heure bleue, 1986 – 1991, 2011).
A bilingual French-English exhibition catalogue, with written contributions from Marie Darrieussecq, Vincent Huguet and Bernard Marcelis, will be available in mid-February 2013.