Artist: Marianne Berenhaut
Venue: Island, Brussels
Exhibition Title: Bits & Pieces
Date: March 14 – June 20, 2020
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Island, Brussels
Recently, a relative told me about a Belgian artist whose work, unknown to the general public, was dense and consistent. In the meantime, I was also advised to read the book Marianne Berenhaut, Conversation with Nadine Plateau published by Tandem, to recontextualize the works that I had discovered through the screen of a computer.
This discussion between Marianne Berenhaut, a Belgian artist born in Brussels in 1934, and Nadine Plateau, a Belgian feminist activist, made me discover, beyond the work, an extraordinary personality and vitality.
A few months later, I met Marianne in London and discovered that the vigour that the printed pages had showed was not a euphemism. At more than eighty years old, Marianne is in fact a young artist and taking advantage of her youth, she decided to move to the British capital, 5 years ago, where her joyful production continues to develop.
Lately, she has accumulated her found objects in her apartment in West London « but they’re not just any! » as she likes to remind us. Whether she gleans them in the street, at flea markets and other garage sales, or when her friends from the neighbourhood bring them to her, she then lets her finds mature in a purgatory while waiting for the association that will transfigure them. When the sculpture resulting from these finds is being created, the objects are chosen randomly, without premeditation. An underlying link between them is undoubtedly what pushes her to choose them, but “the story” tells itself a posteriori.
During our encounter we talked about her sculptures and when I offered her an insight into the founding myths of the work, be they historical, biographical or political, she often said, “No, that’s not really it”. It would seem that the different elements of understanding, taken independently, constrain the reading of the work. This did not prevent her from adding that there is always a link between “her art and social life”. However, as a filigree of her work, it is poetry and humour that are the ontological qualities of the sculptures.
The exhibition at ISLAND, like her entire practice, is therefore constructed in an associative way, in bits and pieces, here and there. The various works shown were made in the last 5 years, offering the viewer independently powerful sculptures that, when combined, can bring out stories. The titles can sometimes give an indication of the latter. The works do not fail to arouse lively and confusing emotions. Silence envelops them, human destinies are played out and the memory of the objects is recounted.
Marianne Berenhaut lives and works between Brussels and London. Born in Belgium in 1934, she attended the Académie du Midi and Atelier de Moeschal between 1960 and 1964. Over the past 45 years she has had various solo exhibitions in different art spaces and institutions like La Maison des Femmes (Brussels), Musée juif de Belgique (Brussels), MAC’s Grand Hornu (Belgium) as well as in Isy Brachot Gallery (Brussels), and Nadja Vilenne Gallery (Liège). She has been part of several group exhibitions as in Maison Grégoire (Brussels), Gladstone Gallery (Brussels), Bureau des réalités (Brussels) as well as Carl Freedman Gallery (Margate, UK).