Contrasts in art – Labour of Love, By Wim Delvoye

Contrast is important in art.  An intense black and white drawing by Seurat, rice colour contrasts in a Van Gogh painting or a lonely or an isolated Anthony Gormley figure in the vastness of the Thames and London skyline.  But I have rarely visited an exhibition where contrasts of content have collided with such directness as the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye that is currently at the Noordbrabantsmuseum in ‘s Hertogenbosch. 

There are sparkling laser-cut steel used to rebuild Gothic cathedral architecture into the form of cement mixers and dumper trucks. Heraldic crests are displayed on ironing boards and gas cylinders decorated to make them look like they are constructed from Delftsblauw ceramics, and that is just in the first room of the exhibition. 

Throughout the show the work displayed is playful, at times mischievous but always immaculately made.  The collisions of content that Delvoye manipulates are carefully considered and combined visually is a way that captures the attention, draws you in to look closer and in doing so encourage you to give the work the time it deserves.  The intricately carved forms cut into heavy duty tires, tattooed and flayed pigs’ skin or the bent, reformed and twisted crucifixion sculptures, there is a great deal to see and think about. 

While I’m not sure that Delvoye’s work will find its way directly into my own creative practice, but I have previously used a little of his work in my lessons and I can certainly see myself extending that.  A series of lessons I give on surrealism and surreal combinations of two objects really seems to be crying out for his input and influence!