press release

This winter de Appel presents the solo exhibition “Diamond Dancer” by the Belgian visual artist Valérie Mannaerts (Brussels, 1974). In spatial installations Mannaerts combines sculptures, spatial objects, works on paper and photography in a way in which the different types of imagery cut across each other. Using the exhibition spaces in de Appel Boys’ School, Mannaerts creates a total installation with a selection of uninhibited and disparate objects.

In her work Valérie Mannaerts extends the medium of collage to spatial objects. She examines the physiognomy of things and questions the relationship between organic and inorganic forms, the autonomy of objects and the stories concealed by them. Using materials such as wood, bronze, ceramics, cardboard, textiles, paint, concrete and paper Mannaerts created hybrid, controversial and ambiguous forms for this exhibition. Her work explores the boundaries between image and object in a way that is sometimes indirectly reminiscent of the work of the Surrealists. As in the investigative paintings of David Hockney, nothing is innocent. If there is any relationship with the work of this great English artist, it is that both their works contain exercises in observation.

The words from the title “Diamond Dancer” are intriguing, because they appear to be a reminder of something that is difficult to place. Mannaerts’ visual work triggers the same experience. Her works enters border areas, twilight zones in which the viewer looks for visual points of contact in bewilderment. The viewer is confronted with an object or a situation which demands preverbal observation before it is analysed. The objects alternate between being a sketch or a drawing, a sculpture and an ornament, a model and a life-size representation, between two and three dimensions. The precise interpretation is up to the individual viewer, because as Mannaerts once said: "People see and recognise in the world around them that what is already in their head."

Earlier this year Valérie Mannaerts built an eclectic sculpture park named ‘Blood Flow’ at Extra City (Antwerp). This exhibition and “Diamond Dancer” form the basis for Valérie Mannaerts' first monograph. The book includes an essay by Anselm Franke, a discussion between Valérie Mannaerts and Ann Demeester, and sections with illustrations of the installations in de Appel and Extra City, photographed by Kristien Daem. This monograph, published by Sternberg Press, de Appel and Extra City, was designed in close collaboration with Saskia Gevaert and will be available from 21 January 2011.

Valérie Mannaerts lives and works in Brussels. She was an artist in residence at the ISCP New York (2008). Recently she took part in group exhibitions such as “Beaufort 03” Mu.Zee Ostend (2009); “The Thing (All that is solid melts into air)”, M HKA Cultuursite Mechelen (2009); “Un-Scene”, Wiels, Brussels (2008). Recent solo exhibitions have included “Blood Flow”, Extra City Antwerp (2010), “Wherefore the worm universe”, Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, Brussels (2008) and “Experimental architecture”, Etablissement d’en face, Brussels (2007). In April she will have a solo-exhibition at Elisa Platteau Galerie, Brussels.

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Valerie Mannaerts
Diamond Dancer
Ort: de Appel Jongensschool