Saturday 17 October 2020

Klaas Rommelaere - Dark Uncles

Klaas Rommelaere: Dark Uncles 

October 4, 2020–January 31, 2021, Texture Museum, Kortrijk, Belgium

 "A man without a history or a people that forgot its past will have no choice but to disappear …“

Young Belgian artist Klaas Rommelaere (*1986, Roeselare, Belgium) wrote this quote by award-winning Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki on top of his newest project "Dark Uncles". Made completely in elaborated handicraft with needle, thread, wool and yarn, seven larger-then-life puppets plus two dogs, as well as 18 new wall pieces tell about the artist's autobiographical stories. 

In order to counter disappearance and to trace his own past, Klaas Rommelaere is building large-than-life doubles – "Dark Uncles" – of his own history. Bizarre effigies of seven of his closest family members – parents, sister, partner, grandparents and the two family dogs – move procession-like through the exhibition space and tell about experiences and memories of the artist's life. The anatomical sketch of a cranium on his mother's chest is evidence of her profession as a speech therapist; muscial instruments and cheering people point to the sister's job as a booker; and that the father once had a trade company for camping supply and additional worked as a truck driver can be read from numerous details on his arms and torso.
These personal stories of each single figure are complemented by testimonies such as pictures and memories from the family's history. Having welded sculptures from metail residues after his work at the melting furnace of a metal factory, especially the grandfather played a most important role for Rommelaere's artistic development – numerous references in several wall pieces as well as an own sculpture tell of this formative relation.
At first glance, these wild collages and scenic patchwork images appear like embroidered and knotted notes in yarn and wool. However, nothing about it is coincidental. Rommelaere assembles these perfectly imperfect scenes like a complex storyboards of a two-dimensional movie. In combining both coincidental and documentary topics and thus preserving autobiographical experiences through his artistic work, Rommelaere is building a parallel existence in fragments of his own history and thus demonstrates his own existence.
Klaas Rommelaere originally graduated from them Royal Academy of Fine Art in Ghent as a fashion student. After internships with Henrik Vibskov and Raf Simons, however, he quickly realized that the fashion world is not where his ideas can come to life. Inspired by movies, comics, books or personal experiences, Rommelaere thus began to translate his drawings with the language that was familiar to him – needle, thread, wool and yarn.
At the beginning he embroidered his stories on the canvas completely by himself, which took days and weeks; at one point he started to work together with a group of elderly ladies in his home town, who now help him happily ever since. Absurdly bizarre scenes of handcraft-pop thus result from cross-stitch, crochet or knitwear. His imagery is firmly rooted in both the everyday and the subculture of urban life in Antwerp; quotes of movies or animes are mixed with interpersonal observations. Larger-than-life figures and entire sculptures are embroidered and crocheted.
If Klaas Rommelaere is not working, you will most likely find him in the local art-house-cinema around the corner of his studio in Antwerp – he owns a season ticket there. In his multi-layered, sometimes bizarre-looking picture stories of his textile paintings, fragments of movies or situations of his own everyday life blur into powerful yet delicate snapshots. 

More about the exhibition:

Photography: Courtesy Erich Spahn / Galerie Zink Waldkirchen"


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