22 September – 16 December 2012
Belgian artist and theatre maker Patrick Corillon (b. Knokke, 1959) has invented a cast of ten fictional characters. In each exhibition he drops further hints about their biographies. This autumn’s show at the GEM will feature a large number of narrative works relating to episodes in the life of Oskar Serti (1881-1959), an imaginary Hungarian writer who makes regular appearances in Corillon’s oeuvre. Installations, video images and photographs will symbolise different elements in Serti’s life, their meaning and significance being clarified by short texts in a special published collection.
Whereas many of today’s contemporary artists feel that narrative elements detract from the visual qualities of art, Patrick Corillon is keen to use his work to tell stories. He finds inspiration in the work of great authors like Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa and Argentinean poet and prose writer Jorge Luis Borges. Corillon bears a particularly clear affinity to Pessoa, who gained worldwide renown for his heteronyms (imaginary alter egos) in the twentieth century. His work is also in line with the French literary tradition of Georges Perec and Raymond Queneau. Corillon’s artworks are inextricably linked to his short fictional texts, which are reminiscent of diary extracts. The artist believes that fiction is important, not so much as a way of escaping from reality, but rather as a means of examining it. A way of getting to grips with real life.
For this exhibition at the GEM, Corillon is creating a new installation, to be surrounded by a selection of existing works borrowed from private collections and museums in Belgium and France. Since all the exhibits will relate to the life of Oskar Serti, the exhibition will read like a novel. The glimpses they provide of the Hungarian writer’s mysterious and intriguing life may even leave some visitors confused as to whether Serti was in fact a real person or an imaginary figure.
Corillon lives and works alternately in Paris and Liège. His international reputation dates back to 1992, when he took part in Documenta IX in 1992, and he became known in the mid-1990s as a representative of a new generation of Belgian sculptors who refuse to confine themselves to traditional media. This group also includes Willem Cole and Wim Delvoye. Since the 1990s, Corillon’s work has been exhibited in many places around Europe, including some in the Netherlands. In the 1990s, for example, the HCAK held an exhibition of his work in The Hague, where it was also included in a group show at Nest in 2010. Work by Corillon has likewise featured in a show at the Witte de With in Rotterdam.
The exhibition at the GEM will be accompanied by a specially published collection of all Corillon’s texts relating to Oskar Serti. Visitors will be able to read the texts in the course of their visit to the exhibition and the publication will also be on sale in the museum shop.
The exhibition and the published collection of all Corillon’s texts relating to Oskar Serti is financially supported by Wallonie-Bruxelles International.