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Joris Van de Moortel

Les Paradis Artificiels
June 3 – July 17, 2021
Charles Decoster, Brussels

The first floor of the gallery is dedicated to Belgian artist Joris Van de Moortel, who has been much talked about in the last few months: he was awarded the Prix de la Monnaie de Paris where he will be realizing his own medal, and his work will be exhibited at the Triennial for contemporary art of Courtrai and the art festival Watou in Belgium.

Les Paradis Artificiels (The Artificial Paradises) presents a group of recent works that inscribe themselves in his exploration of madness and revisits its traditional iconography, canonical figures and founding myths.

The allegory of the "Ship of Fools" (borrowed from 16th-century Flemish painting and revived by an alternative counterculture), the figure of the alchemist (incarnation of the Medieval mad scientist and ever-present in 19th-century literature), religious rites, esoteric legends and popular folklore imbue this corpus comprising mural works, prints and neon-lit collages, watercolors and light installations.

The watercolors form an integral part of the artist’s work, but it is the first time they are exhibited as such to the public. While these constitute preliminary studies in the narrative development of the artist’s oeuvre, they are also works in their own right, dense and generous, attesting to an unbridled imagination. In them, Joris Van de Moortel deploys all the mythology of volcanic peaks, areas rife with alchemical activity that ambiguously symbolized places of pilgrimage and of exile for the mentally ill.

This group of works depicts a one-way voyage toward a marginalized world, one that is spiritual and underground, parodic and transgressive. Their parallel with the present times, marked by an epidemic (once again, referencing the Middle Ages), is underlined by Joris Van de Moortel, who, more generally, questions both the artist’s place in today’s society and our awareness as to the norms and materialistic values that characterize it.

The Baudelairian reference of the exhibition’s title puts the accent on inspiration as another way to access parallel worlds.