I love the arts and especially contemporary art. When I travel for work and have some spare time – which actually almost never happens- I try to visit local exhibitions and museums. The last time I was able to do so was in Tel Aviv, while on a business trip to our Israeli office and operations. Tel Aviv Museum of Art was open at night and I was able to see an exhibition showing Michaël Borremans’ artworks.
Borremans is a Belgian Flemish painter born in 1963. The first time I saw his work – or at least I recall seeing his work – was in 2010 when visiting: Mapping the Studio, The François Pinault Foundation exhibition in Venice. But the artwork that really struck me was a video displayed at the FIAC, the Paris art fair back in 2012. It is called The Bread – a magnificent 4 minute video which displays a young girl who seems to be floating or trapped in a table eating, at an incredibly slow pace, a slice of bread.
So when I found out that Borremans was exhibiting in Tel Aviv – the show was called “As Sweet as it Gets” – I did my best to make it happen to go see the exhibition.
Borremans is a visual artist but above all he is a painter. He still uses canvas, oil pigments, and a figurative stance; in that respect he could appear as a conservative and/or traditional artist. But this is obviously not the case…
Actually, and like many great painters in the past decades, he is raising and addressing the key question asked since the advent of photography in the 19th century and then video: is painting still meaningful? Is it worthy?
Looking at Borremans‘ work – the answer is of course positive. Yes, painting is not only meaningful but becomes even more important in a world saturated by images. Painting is about creating an image with a purpose, and this image entertains a very special relationship with reality. Borremans’ paintings, on one hand, immediately trigger references to old masters such as Velazquez, Vermeer or Manet, and on the other hand his videos, with their surreal atmosphere and strange approach to movement, or the way movement is captured, tend to override it and create brand new images. And finally, these images, which seem so close to reality, increasingly make us wonder what reality really is.
So Borremans, like any great artist, takes us for a journey, and mine was a one hour break in Tel Aviv. Hopefully its description triggered some curiosity about his work. And for me, writing about him is a reminder that whenever possible, I should really try to visit local museums!