Billboard Series #09:
Martin Belou (FR)
14/10/2017 — 14/01/2018
It is difficult to categorise Martin Belou’s practice – though it’s certainly clear that the process of gathering and connecting around primary elements such as fire and water plays an important role. Belou stages the codes of this gathering, he recontextualises and re-activates them – not to create contemporary rituals, but to enable new ways for people to come together and connect. The imagery that he uses for this is linked to the iconography of shamanism, alchemy and other pre-scientific systems of thinking and knowledge.
Every ritual has a transformative moment, and this is also reflected in Belou’s sculptural practice. He experiments with materials and how they change over time – under the influence of water, air (oxidation) or fire. His way of working – through extremely coherent – generates very different outcomes. For example, he makes big amulets in clay, which he casts in plaster, breaks and smokes, and then reassembles again. Or he uses a plasma cutter to extract shapes from sheets of copper, brass and steel, to make two-dimensional collages or sculptural installations. Recently, repetitive patterns are taking a more prominent role in this process.
Belou’s work is attractive and at the same time repulsive. It’s alienating, but surprisingly recognizable at the same time. This undoubtedly has to do with the fact that the artist uses his own body as a measure and tool to shape details in clay. If you look closely at the plaster elements in Belou’s practice, you’ll see that they are made up of an infinite number of fingerprints.
For the ninth Billboard Series, Martin Belou made a huge collage, which will slowly transform throughout the exhibition period. On wooden panelling taking over the entire billboard, Belou made a collage of various shapes in metal, copper and brass – alternated with hand-painted surfaces, creating a mysterious scene with a Medieval figure in an Arcadian landscape. The image depicts another time and announces what happened within 019 at the opening event, on Saturday, October 14th.
For the opening event, Martin Belou created a performative scenography that gathered several key elements of his practice. For this meeting of people and objects around fire, food and (warm) water, Belou collaborated with Master’s students at the LUCA School of Arts. For this collaborative project, Martin Belou guided and worked with students Frederik Sutter, Gustave Demoen, Stan D’Haene, Marie Van den Broucke, Paulien Wellens, Louie Mauws, Inan Yigit, Arno Amandt, Leslie Steen and Anna Puschel.
All images courtesy of the artist
Installation photography: Michiel De Cleene
Billboard Series is a long-term art project in public space, for which every three months an artist is invited to create a new, site-specific work for a 50 m2 billboard on Dok Noord, Ghent. Through changing presentations, Billboard Series wants to build a sustainable and productive dialogue with the surrounding neighbourhood and urban landscape, reflect on the changes that this neighbourhood is currently undergoing, and introduce a broad audience to different visual languages and ways of looking at the world.
Billboard Series is a project of artlead, together with 019. Billboard Series is curated by Thomas Caron, takes place within a scenography by architect Olivier Goethals, and is being developed with the support of the City of Ghent and the Flemish Community.