Don't Miss – New York: Michaël Borremans: The Devil's Dress at David Zwirner through December 17, 2011

December 9th, 2011

Michaël Borremans, The Knives (2010)

Michaël Borremans: The Devil’s Dress is the artist’s fourth solo exhibition at David Zwirner in New York. Borremans’ art is heavily influenced by 18th and 19th century artists, including Édouard Manet and Diego Valázquez, and his painterly style recalls works from both the Romantic and Realist periods. “One of the reasons I consciously chose to work in painting is that you can’t use it only as a medium. It has this historical connotation, and either you want [that connotation] or you don’t want it. So if you paint, you should make use of that. It’s inherent to the medium, and it’s very important. If you don’t want it, take another medium. It’s as simple as that. Therefore this dialogue with other painting is to me very essential,” Borremans said in an interview in 2007.

Installation view

Michaël Borremans, The Hovering Wood (2011). All images via David Zwirner.

Borremans’ The Knives (top) at first glance is simply a portrait. A girl stares downward, her focus unknown. The artist explains, however, that a portrait is never just a portrait. “They’re not about people that are depicted, or making a characteristic image of them that speaks for what they are. I just use this exterior form of a portrait so that you have certain expectations of it, but it doesn’t really work like a portrait. It doesn’t reveal anything or go where we’d expect it would go. So on the surface you have a portrait, but the content of it is just not there. There’s nothing there.”

Michaël Borremans, The Loan (2011)

The Loan, like The Knives, illustrates a similar disconnect between the subject of the painting and its title. The subject of the painting is a headless female mannequin whose limbs look entirely real. The skin folds at her elbows and the back dimples make this into a real body, yet instead of a head, the neck is topped with a metal collar. As in a store, the mannequin stands on a small square of floor, the setting too vague to identify.

Michaël Borremans, The Devil’s Dress (2011)

Michaël Borremans, The Devil’s Dress (II) (2011)

Borremans’ paintings are united by their ambiguous, empty backgrounds containing a single subject. Each figure seems to be simultaneously contemplative and unconscious. The exhibition’s title comes from his 2011 painting The Devil’s Dress in which a figure lies face up on the ground of another warehouse-like space, wearing a stiff red cardboard dress. Despite the rich yellow-brown tones of the background and the warmth of the red, the entire space feels cool. Borremans’ paintings are haunted by peculiar figures with unreadable faces and emotions, warmly framed while remaining mysterious and distant.

Michaël Borremans, The Wind (2011)

Michaël Borremans, Girl with Duck (2011)

Michaël Borremans, The Lid (2011)

- G. Linden

Related links:

David Zwirner [Exhibition Site]
Michaël Borremans [Artist Page]
Michaël Borremans [ArtInfo]


States News Service December 22, 2011 Oxford, Ohio — The following information was released by Miami University – Oxford:

Kathleen Johnson, associate professor of English, was awarded the 2011 E. Phillips Knox Teaching Award at Miami University’s fall commencement Dec. 16. site creative writing prompts

Established by Miami alumnus E. Philips Knox, a 1968 graduate, the award recognizes creative, innovative and engaging teaching methods at the undergraduate level. Miami’s Center for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and University Assessment selected Johnson for the honor.

A member of Miami’s faculty since 1996, Johnson has taught a variety of courses in multiple departments and programs, including English, the Western program, film studies, and women studies.

According to Kerry Powell, professor and chair of the English department, “Katie’s work takes place both inside and outside the classroom, and it is marked by innovation, direct and individualized engagement of students with course content, and an emphasis on critical and contextual learning.” Johnson describes her classrooms as “performative” and “innovative.” She does not simply invert the classroom to make it student-centered. Her classroom “becomes a dynamic space in which knowledge is actively performed, analyzed and re-forged.” In addition, Johnson includes intensive writing in her courses using traditional assignments, as well as creative writing prompts, such as role-play activities, debates, and playwriting. Her approaches generate excitement among students who she explains become “invested;” thus, making for a dynamic learning experience. go to site creative writing prompts

Johnson has taught and designed more than 30 different courses and mentored undergraduate students on individualized research projects – nearly 50 students altogether. Her rigorous approach to one-on-one instruction includes close reading and revision of drafts and weekly meetings with each independent-study student. The result – undergraduate students creating work at the master’s degree level.