Michaël Borremans (b. 1963)
signed, titled and dated 'MICHAËL BORREMANS PATTERNS 2005' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
27½ x 23 5/8 in. (70 x 60 cm.)
Painted in 2005.
Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp

Lot Essay

"Borremans began painting in 1995. He uses an antiquated style of oil on canvas painting, fraught with reminiscences of the manner of Géricault and Manet--and thus harking back to the licks and tricks of Spanish Baroque virtuosi of the order of Ribera and Velázquez--to render mostly figures, or details of figures, with a degree of realism that is more or less discreetly subverted through somewhat unexpected formal or iconographic means. His palette, loaded with beiges, browns and grays, hints at despair, and the paintings themselves purposefully exude ennui, perhaps hinting at melancholia...

...The air of nonchalance that also emanates from his painted work takes us back to 1920s and 1930s forms of realism--the less painterly Neue Sachlichkeit for one--with the aim of grafting additional layers of meaning onto his deadpan, retro mode of figuration. For Borremans understands how style signifies and how loaded with cultural references, say, a seemingly straightforward, wet on wet depiction of a man shown from the neck up can be "seemingly," for this artist--who often bases his compositions upon photographs of little distinction--takes great pleasure in seeing how a brushstroke can turn into flesh and three-dimensional form, and then back again into paint. Borremans takes shortcuts, abbreviates forms, plays with scale, slips in and out of focus, often relies upon dramatic cropping (a legacy of photography) and as often as not, chooses the close-up view."

M. Amy, "The Theater of the Absurd," Team Celeste, July-August 2006, pp. 45-46.

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