Wilde Gallery, Basel
Jan Fabre. New Works | Mosaics
Curated by Joanna De Vos
New Works | Mosaics represents three years of dedicated work and showcases mosaics organized into four thematic groups:
I am Blood, The Fountain of the World, Carnival, and Feast of Little Friends. Each series is an exploration of perspective, an interplay between the tangible mosaic and the transcendent concept it embodies. A new book accompanies the exhibition, published by FORMA, with authors including Edwin Becker, Joanna De Vos, Giacinto Di Pietrantonio, Yuko Hasegawa, Katerina Koskina, and Dimitri Ozerkov.
Elaborating on the ancient craft of mosaic making, Fabre re-envisions his archival drawings and watercolours through this time-honored medium. His reexamination of Feast of Little Friends, a series he made in his early 20s, extends beyond nostalgia, embraces experimentation and reaffirms the enduring relevance of traditional art in the modern era.
Fabre's work engages deeply with the carnivalesque, weaving together themes of mortality and reality. His pieces echo the celebratory and the macabre, a nod to Belgian cultural festivities, encased in opulence and framed with a critical eye. Through this lens, Fabre probes societal masks and satirizes historical pretenses, crafting a dialogue that resonates with the satirical works of Félicien Rops and others.
In the micromosaic domain, Fabre's intricate labor mirrors the precision of horology, marrying luxury with artistic worship and showcasing the sacredness of minutiae. Fabre's mastery of symbolism shines in his mosaics, where royal and spiritual undertones meet, adorned with 24-carat gold. He takes inspiration from medieval to Christological narratives, offering contemporary meditations on age-old concepts like power, vulnerability, and transformation. His work becomes a modern vessel for the profound tales and emblems of bygone eras, simultaneously capturing the essence of the past and pressing into the future.
The Fountain of the World presented on the first-floor revisits Fabre’s own 1979 drawings, reflecting on performance, art, and the fluidity of life, challenging conventional views and inviting audiences to reconsider the body's role in art and expression. Fabre further establishes a discourse, through subtle references, with a number of artists, and artworks, throughout art history, including with Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World, Nicolas Restif de la Bretonne, the Marquis de Sade, and Luis Buñuel.
This exhibition not only showcases Jan Fabre's profound engagement with artistic disciplines but also his ability to spur contemplation and redefine the boundaries of art. Wilde invites viewers to delve into the rich tapestry of Jan Fabre's mosaics and find themselves at the confluence of heritage and transformation.