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press release

Paul Klee. Theatre Here, There and Everywhere A monographic exhibition around the Swiss painter, featuring compositor and orchestra conductor Pierre Boulez as guest curator.

This spring the Centre for Fine Arts is putting the spotlight on the work of the innovative, modernistic artist Paul Klee (1879 – 1940). His last solo exhibition in Belgium was back in1957 and so the Centre felt it was high time we renew our acquaintance with his oeuvre. Christine Hopfengart from the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern has put the Paul Klee. Theatre here, there and everywhere exhibition on track with the help of guest curator Pierre Boulez, the celebrated conductor and composer.

The exhibition concept is unique in that it covers all aspects of Klee as a draughtsman, painter and philosopher. It explores his diverse forms of expression and his love of experiment. The approach taken is the influence of the performing arts on the work of Paul Klee. Klee's interests ranged from opera to the humble puppet theatre and the hundreds of performances he attended provided him with a rich storehouse for his visual vocabulary. The titles of some works are direct references to the theatrical world, as are symbolic figures such as the tightrope walker, puppet and mask. But above all the Swiss artist forged a link between theatre and life. He believed that theatre is as much a part of daily life as it is of the auditorium or circus tent. The people around him were his actors, daily occurrences his plays. He himself became the spectator, keeping a watchful eye on everything from a safe distance as if through a pair of opera glasses. He observed the world and looked for the theatrical in everyday life. This mind-set enabled the artist to develop an unusual but clear poetic composition in which imagination and the commonplace merge. He created a certain musicality by means of graphic rhythms, colour similarities and linguistic signs, thus highlighting his affinity with the stage arts in all their manifestations.

The exhibition comprises some 220 works of art, mainly drawings and aquarelles but also some oil paintings. It consists of two main parts: Klee's passion for the performing arts and the musicality of his artworks seen by Pierre Boulez.

Klee and the performing arts This part comprises three sections: - artworks by Paul Klee under the headings 'Theatre', 'Masks and puppets', 'Stars and celebrities', 'Circus', 'Dance' and 'Theatre at the Bauhaus'. - a documentation area displaying theatre programmes and tickets, letters, posters, photographs and other historical documents with a Paul Klee connection. - videos by contemporary artists like Pipilotti Rist, Erwin Wurm, William Wegman, Sam Taylor-Wood and Rosemarie Trockel, which underline the contemporariness of Klee's themes and statements.

'The fertile country' - Paul Klee seen through the eyes of Pierre Boulez The second part of the exhibition was put together by guest curator Pierre Boulez. There is no doubt that his study of Klee's visual and theoretical work during his years as a lecturer at the Bauhaus plays a role in Boulez's musical composition. Boulez has never made any secret of his interest in Paul Klee, who as well as being an artist, was also a reasonably good violinist. In fact, in 1989 Boulez wrote a book entitled Le pays fertile, Paul Klee (published by Gallimard, reprinted 2008), an analysis of Klee's work in relation to contemporary music composition and music theory. For the exhibition Boulez selected some 60 works which inspire him. This part is organized around the themes of music composition which also occur in the works of Klee: rhythm, heterophony and polyphony.

Curator: Dr. Christine Hopfengart (ZPK, Bern) Guest curator: Pierre Boulez Co-production: Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern

Paul Klee. Theatre here, there and everywhere
Kuratoren: Christine Hopfengart, Pierre Boulez

Ort: Centre for Fine Arts, Brüssel