RIK WOUTERS & THE PRIVATE UTOPIA at MoMu

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The theme of enchanting homeliness by painter Rik Wouters, as well as the intimate feeling of sanctity between him and his wife Nel, forms the premise of this exhibition. In our region, Wouters was the only artist to combine Post-Impressionist painting techniques with simple domestic scenes. His expressive brush strokes and the unfinished style of his canvases give a dynamic to his work that, combined with the emphasis on lighting and colour, result in an enchanting and optimistic quality. Wouters had his fair share of difficulties in life, yet the harmonious ‘good life’ takes centre stage in his work. His love for Nel was a motivating force in his work and her lust for life and energy inspired him to create many well-known paintings and sculptures.

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left: RIK WOUTERS THE SICK WOMAN WITH WHITE SHAWL, 1912 OIL ON CANVAS © KMSKA – LUKASART IN FLANDERS VZW PHOTO HUGO MAERTENS right:BERLINDE DE BRUYCKERE, 1994 WATER COLOUR AND GOUACHE ON CARDBOARD © DIRK PAUWELS

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left: WALTER VAN BEIRENDONCK HOME SWEET HOME, SS 2014 © RONALD STOOPS right:RIK WOUTERS WOMAN WITH YELLOW NECKLACE, 1912 OIL ON CANVAS © RMFAB PHOTO J. GELEYNS | RO SCAN

 

In this exhibition, the contemporary movement in which people are again seeking domestic intimacy and contact with nature, the ‘slow’ movement and the renewed attention for traditional techniques, like ceramics, weaving and dyeing, are linked with the utopian philosophy from Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden. Published in 1854 Walden presented the non-industrial, natural way of life as an alternative to the over-stimulation of consumer society. In painting, we see a similar change in Impressionism in the mid-nineteenth century, shifting from ‘bourgeois’ art to more of an internalisation highlighting the beauty of the natural way of life with an emphasis on lighting.

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left: RIK WOUTERS TULIPS, 1913 OIL ON CANVAS © KMSKA – LUKASART IN FLANDERS VZW PHOTO HUGO MAERTENS right:DIRK VAN SAENE SS 2005 © STANY DEDEREN

The notion of shelter and sanctity is today reflected in both conceptual art and applied design (fashion, interior, design). These worlds overlap in a utopian quest for the essence of ‘the good life’ — or simply put: what does a person need to be happy? This search is expressed in a predilection for selfreliance and in the combination of pure materials with traditional techniques.

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left: BLESS BIG BLONDE HAIRBRUSH, 1999 © BLESS STANY DEDEREN right: RIK WOUTERS NUDE STUDY, 1912 OIL ON CANVAS © KMSKA – LUKASART IN FLANDERS VZW PHOTO HUGO MAERTENS

Various Belgian fashion designers — including Dirk Van Saene, Bruno Pieters, Christian Wijnants, Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Veronique Branquinho, Martin Margiela, Marina Yee and Jan-Jan Van Essche — give their individual interpretations to these thoughts: some by choosing specific fabrics and techniques, and others through their idiosyncratic position in fashion, in which they do not give praise to the hectic pace of the fashion world.

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left: RIK WOUTERS SELF PORTRAIT WITH BLACK EYE PATCH, 1915 OIL ON CANVAS © KMSKA – LUKASART IN FLANDERS VZW PHOTO HUGO MAERTENS right: JAN-JAN VAN ESSCHE NO MAN IS AN ISLAND, SS 2016 © PIETRO CELESTINA & MAUD VAN HAEGENBORGH

This exhibition is a partnership between MoMu – Fashion Museum Antwerp and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (kmska) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of painter Rik Wouters in 2016. The exhibition brings together work by Rik Wouters from the kmska collection and pieces by contemporary artists and fashion designers..

Rik Wouters & The Private Utopia 17

Open from 17 September 2016 to 26 February 2017

MoMu – Fashion Museum Antwerp Nationalestraat 28, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium www.momu.be

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