Few artists have expanded the scope of monumental sculpture and installation more than Jan De Cock (1976). Since early 2000 the artist develops work on the verge between sculpture, architecture, photography, painting and film, radically dismantling our strategies of perception. Whether you consider his monumental DENKMAL-series (Tate Modern, London; MoMA, New York), REPROMOTION (Bozar, Brussels) or the compressed bas-reliefs from the series Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden Baden), De Cock develops a unique visual language that is rooted as much in art history as in everyday utilitarian structures, putting perspectives on art and the world in motion.
SCULPTURECOMMUNISM is part of the series EVERYTHING FOR YOU, with which De Cock since 2013 travels the world, from Kiev to Havana, looking for a radical shift in the relationship between his work and the society of which it is part. With seemingly simple interventions in basic materials such as wood, paint and plaster, De Cock intervenes with his work directly in public space. By responding to the sight lines and material properties of the environment, a Gesamtkunstwerk is created that directly communicates with the world, regardless of the market and perception mechanisms of the art world. The presentation at Office Baroque means both a culmination as a next step in this process.
Central to the exhibition are eight new compositions or MOTIFS, a unique series of sculptural work that neither stands, hangs nor lies, but leans against the walls of the gallery, as if without the outside world it literally could not exist. The vertical structures not only appear as pedestals for art, but also allude to shelves for consumer goods and even panels for a demonstration. They support still lifes of everyday objects like cans, nuts or autonomous wooden structures. But although base and work seem separated, by their pictorial treatment with paint and plaster they conjoin into one heterogeneous sculpture, visible along quite different perspectives and also determined by this changing angle. Built from raw fiberboard, with visible sketch lines and seemingly hastily painted, the MOTIFS seem a monumental exercise in progress. And blurring the line between functionality and aesthetics, meticulously planned structures and apparent sketchiness, between merchandise and art, they literally put perception in motion. Just as in the case of a block of Carrara marble that is supported by one of the sculptures, everything one is able to register is in a sense basic material awaiting further processing, if only by the shift in perspective.
The same questioning of set limits happens between art and everyday life. A series of memorial papers provide a rich overview of the interventions that De Cock made within the most diverse locations and exotic cultures. The radical gesture to respond with humble materials to the parameters of the environment makes his art blend seamlessly with everyday reality, by which the latter seems just as transformable and in progress as the sculptures themselves. Under the banner of SCULPTURECOMMUNISM, De Cock assesses not only the common underlying structure of reality. The power of the communal lies precisely in bringing together what we see in every day life as strict opposites: the abstract and the figurative, the exotic and the familiar, the symbolic and the concrete, the static and changing, ideology and practice, art and life. Just as each sculpture is made up of a collection of different wooden elements, the work is not completed until the forces of creator and spectator join, in the personal experience of the sculptures along their different facets.
How radically this new shift in SCULPTURECOMMUNISM may be, De Cock charges it resolutely with a reinterpretation of tradition: the pictorial ambiguity from the still lifes of Morandi, the slender movement expression of Giacometti, the social symbolism of Beuys, the monumental instability of Serra, the constructivist exploration of basic shapes, they run like beacons through the questions De Cock evokes with his work, and generate an epic reflection on daily reality. The MOTIFS of SCULPTURECOMMUNISM conserve and propagate, not so much the products they carry, but the freedom to transgress what we know, and to reform reality from that renewed perspective.
With SCULPTURECOMMUNISM, Jan De Cock presents his first solo exhibition in his hometown Brussels since his critically acclaimed project REPROMOTION in Bozar in 2009. This exhibition inaugurates the collaboration between Office Baroque and Jan De Cock. Works by Jan De Cock are included in prominent collections as Centre Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Museum of Modern Art, New York and Tate Modern, London. Between February 21st and May 31st, work of Jan De Cock will be included in the exhibition (Un)Möglich, Künstler as Architektenat in MARTa Herford.