SMAK Ghent °

S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst | Jan Hoetplein 1
B-9000 Ghent

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press release

From 1st July to 11th September 2005, the S.M.A.K. (Museum of Contemporary Art) in the Belgian city of Ghent is holding a double exhibition on the artists Artur Barrio (b. 1945, Porto) and Joseph Beuys (b. 1921, Krefeld, d. 1985, Düsseldorf).

These two artists are from completely different generations and have radically different cultural backgrounds. They never even met. So why this double exhibition?

There are actually crucial similarities between the work of these two artists, affinities which each of them developed individually out of their own needs, and which in our opinion more than justify a double ‘exploratory exhibition’.

The Brazilian artist Artur Barrio, whose exhibitions include the Fortaleza Biennale and the last Documenta, curated by Okwui Enwezor, is one of the alternative pioneers of the contemporary Brazilian art scene. In the seventies, Barrio’s temporary, synaesthetic, highly individual and intuitive installations caused a stormy upheaval in Brazil’s then experimental artistic climate. The materials he used, including coffee, bread, charcoal, wine, material, writing and urine, radically repudiated any art that took the form of a permanent and classically aesthetic experience. The ephemeral nature of Barrio’s work obliged him to look for alternative ways of documenting it – photos, videos, artist’s books and suchlike – which also became an integral part of the work.

Another important aspect of Barrio’s work is the radical way he puts the art institution into perspective. He considers the curator – in contrast to what is still accepted practice – as superfluous to the idea of the work of art and the exhibition. In his view the curator is forced back into the role of a purely logistical coordinator.

It is not only in his use of intuitive and emotionally charged material that Artur Barrio displays affinities with the work of Joseph Beuys, but also in his radical questioning of the function of art and its essential linkage to life. Here too – just like Beuys – he adopts a didactic-shamanistic position, as a sort of guru who pushes and pulls at the establishment and distils new ways of thinking and acting from this deconstruction.

This explains the S.M.A.K.’s plan to mount an exhibition on the oeuvre of these two artists, based explicitly on their similar mentalities. The ‘Barrio – Beuys’ exhibition brings the work of these two artists together for the first time in an ‘imaginary dialogue’. Entirely in keeping with his intuitive ‘in situ mentality’, Artur Barrio created a temporary installation, based on the museum itself, in parallel with the work of Beuys, which forms a substantial presence in the museum’s collection. This Beuys-ensemble will be supplemented with a number of works from private collections.

Pressetext

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Barrio-Beuys
Artur Barrio, Joseph Beuys