VNH Gallery is delighted to announce Belgian artist Kris Martin’s solo exhibition titled “Prometheus“ (17 May – 17 June 2017), which follows on from his “Moveable“ project, shown in February 2016.
The exhibition takes its name from Prometheus, the ill-fated Titan of Greek mythology, and creator of mankind confronted by the blunder of his brother Epimetheus, who neglected to provide Prometheus’s creation with a single attribute that might allow it to survive in the world. Prometheus remedied the situation by shaping man in the image of the gods and offering him the sacred gift of re, stolen from Olympus. Zeus was so infuriated by Prometheus’s theft of re, a symbol of knowledge and reason, and gift of it to man that he devised a stratagem that eventually resulted in the opening of Pandora’s famous box, which was the origin of all mankind’s misfortunes. To complete his revenge, Zeus had Prometheus chained to a rock on a mountain, where an eagle picked at his liver by day, allowing it to regenerate at night.
As an underlying theme of the exhibition presented in the gallery, the myth of Prometheus raises issues that occupy an important place in Kris Martin’s work. Thomas Hobbes interpreted it as revealing the anxiety of man, looking too far ahead, so fear of death and poverty gnaw at his heart. Kris Martin’s work keys into this preoccupation: this interest in the dilemma represented by destiny; this understanding of the ephemeral nature of existence, combined with the insatiable quest for a meaning to give to humankind, which is marked by growing, grassroots skepticism toward all form of religion or higher power. Fall pursues this line of thought with the dual meaning implicit in its title: Fall, the season when “shadows grow“ according to Victor Hugo; and the Fall, a direct reference to Genesis. The upturned apple tree in the exhibition brings to mind the passage in the Bible when, just like Prometheus, the antediluvian couple formed by Adam and Eve succumbs to the wild and imprudent temptation to defy (the) God(s). By turning the apple tree on its head, Kris Martin offers a glimpse of firm cations that soar skywards as if to cling onto something in the inevitable fall provoked by this original sin that condemned humanity to an absurd existence, “cast out into the world alone and without excuse“ (Sartre).
In 2004, Kris Martin decided to start cutting the “End-points“ of the books that had really marked him, to isolate them and thus utter a special symbolism. At VNH Gallery the artist presents a set of “End-points“ of the sacred books of the twelve most practiced religions in the world. A common “End-point“ to all those narratives, whose timeless impact touches hundreds of millions of people in the writing of their own existence.
Standing under the Gallery’s glass roof, facing these railroad-crossing barriers, whose aesthetic particularities have been erased, is an invitation to thought and contemplation of devices whose original function was to stand in the path of those who venture out imprudently on the tracks. The electric cables that shoot toward the glass roof are like strings worked by a demiurge puppeteer holding in his hands the destiny of humanity, in turns passive and active, contemplative or resigned to its condition.
Categorically rooted in the daily life that inspires him, Kris Martin grasps existential questions with a humorous varnish, a genuine firewall to the visceral fear that gnaws at humanity and runs through the artist’s work. And that work finds completion in the gaze of the viewer compelled to consider. Interested in the figure of the idiot, and by extension Harlequin, who alone could mock political or divine authority, Kris develops an approach that allows him nonchalantly to bring us to question ourselves. In other words, feign idiocy to escape the complexity of the world, and compose exhibitions with movements as profound as they are subtle.