press release

Spring 2018 and Europe is at a crossroads, with one path leading to separation, the other to reconstruction. Two museums, The Grand Hornu and the macLYON have come together to showcase the creative, humanist and radical dimension of a great European artist, Adel Abdessemed. And a gallery displays a solo show.

Le Chagrin des Belges: in reference to Hugo Claus
March 2–April 14, 2018
Dvir Gallery Brussels, Belgium

For the exhibition, Le Chagrin des Belges, Adel Abdessemed extends an invitation for viewers to enter into a world of haunting stories and images. The works on show, all entitled Feux, are made from a natural element born of destruction, but also used for drawing: charcoal.These pieces embody the atrocities committed in the Belgian Congo under the reign of Leopold II, the Belgian king who claimed the colony as his own personal property for 24 years.

Six sculptures echo the shape of doors, opening onto hell and reminding us of the torture inflicted in the colonies. These allegorical works also conjure up the image of Adam and Eve being cast out of paradise, as in Masaccio’s fresco at the Brancacci Chapel in Florence.

As the artist himself said: “When I am invited to a country, in this case Belgium, I examine what I can possibly create, while roaming through the nation’s history and past […]”

Adel Abdessemed, Otchi Tchiornie
March 4–June 3, 2018
Musée des Arts Contemporains au Grand-Hornu, Belgium

The artist will present a “manifesto exhibition” at Grand-Hornu consisting of new, site-specific works.

The exhibition at Grand-Hornu is called Otchi Tchiornie (“Black Eyes,” in reference to a song from the repertoire of the Red Army Choir) and was designed by the artist as a “manifesto” against barbarity and to promote freedom, with the insolence of someone who, like the troubadour, “dances on embers.” Traversed by a red carpet (the symbol of official power) which the artist has chosen to install through its entire length, the exhibition opens with the absurd but revelatory image of our helplessness in the face of war, a “suicide pigeon” perched on a public bench, on which we would no doubt think twice before sitting.

MAC’s/Grand-Hornu – Museum of contemporary art
Rue Sainte-Louise 82
B-7301 Hornu

Adel Abdessemed, L’Antidote
March 9–July 8, 2018
Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon, France

Over two floors of the museum, Adel Abdessemed presents a selection of works never before shown in France, as well as a number of new creations, including L’Antidote, the work that has given its name to the exhibition.

L’Antidote is the name of a bar in Lyon where the artist, then a student at the ENSBA Lyon, met Julie, his future wife, who would become a central figure in his artwork and his life. A souvenir of a personal experience lived by an artist who considers art to be a vital experience, necessary for one’s own wellbeing and that of the world: here, the antidote could well be that of art in the face of a brutal reality. The exhibition expresses a number of key themes in Abdessemed’s artwork (selfportrait, family life, animal life, representations of violence), in an immovable grammar that makes use of a constantly evolving vocabulary. New plastic formalizations renew the figures: a sculpture in marble (Is Beautiful, based on a photograph showing a young Angela Merkel, naked), an architectural model, Shams a frieze remarkably executed on-site from clay…

mac Lyon
Cité Internationale
81 Quai Charles de Gaulle
F- 69006 Lyon

The two exhibitions in museums, L’antidote and Otchi Tchiornie, can be seen as independent but complementary events. A single catalogue, bringing together images and essays specific to each venue, connects the two exhibitions (Editions Fonds Mercator – graphic design: Schaffter Sahli).

Adel Abdessemed Le chagrin des belges In reference to Hugo Claus March 1–April 14, 2018 Opening at Dvir Gallery: March 1, 6–8pm

Adel Abdessemed Otchi Tchiornie March 4–June 3, 2018 Opening at MAC's/Grand-Hornu: March 3, 5–8pm