– Basajaun in Bremdonck
Opening: 8 May, 2021
Exhibition: 08.05 – 19.09.2021
KETELEER GALLERY is very pleased to introduce Basajaun in Bremdonck, the second solo exhibition by Spanish artist Javier Pérez (°1968. Bilbao, Spain) with the gallery. The exhibition consist of an entirely new series of bronze sculptures and charcoal drawings, a selection inspired by the rich history and location of the 14th century BREMDONCK farmhouse which was saved from ruin after nearly collapsing under the weight of its own past and which sits surrounded by the rustling of trees witnessing the many stories of the people who pass(ed) through here.
Javier Pérez has a very cyclical vision of time and his new bronze sculptures emerged from the reflection on how everything in nature is in a perpetual state of interdependent transformation. The wall sculpture Infinito Privado shows the evolutionary stages of a human head in which the last stage appears exactly the same as the first, symbolising how an end is never the end but a new beginning in a process of infinite rebirth. Doble Latido, meaning ‘double heartbeat’, shows two hearts growing from a branch Pérez found on a beach and was inspired by Norse mythology on the origin of man which teaches us how the vegetal world was the source for human existence, a theme which is also beautifully articulated in the hanging sculpture Médula in which a human spine extends into roots that grow vertically in both directions as if seeking to connect with both the earth and the sky.
There are always multiple levels of duality, of tension, to be found in Pérez’ works: between light and darkness, softness and rigidity, vibrant energy and (apparent) inertia, life and death… opposites which don’t cancel each other out but are perfectly complementary to each other; each side being the prerequisite for the other. In his new charcoal drawings, Pérez employs light and darkness to reflect on human’s ability to find hope where none is offered and old certainties have dissolved.
Madriguera I, II and III show the lit-up contours of a human body either emerging from or retreating to a cave-like darkness in nature; a place of both despair and comfort, the necessary breeding ground for renewed energy. Darkness, after all, is what ignites the quest for light and the darker it gets the more luminous the smallest spark appears to us. In the El Desamparo series Pérez explored exactly this: these drawings are of photographs he took at night of trees which he illuminated with night lights creating a mesmerising clair-obscure effect, allowing him to focus on how the light reveals certain shapes and details while concealing others. Camino 250121 was inspired by the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost in which the road is a symbol for how we can only illuminate the path in front of us as we walk on it, and how all the little decisions we take in life can eventually make a big difference.
Last year’s trying times caused us all to reflect on our place in the whole, on everything we had taken for granted and how our connection with the outside world – the people and the environment that (in)directly surround us – also establishes a sense of connection with ourselves. The title of the exhibition refers to a hairy, man-like creature form Basque mythology called “Basajaun” – meaning “lord of the woods” – who was believed to have taught humans the ways of cultivating the land and who guarded over the woods and the flocks and shepherds in it. It could be considered a gentle though poignant reminder of how precarious and vital our bond with nature is and how it will always need some care and attention if we are to thrive in it.
Lauren Wiggers, 2021.