Galerie Nathalie Obadia is delighted to present the first solo exhibition by Joris van de Moortel in Paris, following his two exhibitions at the Brussels gallery (Getting Comfortable Slowly in 2013 and It’s No Longer a Thing but a Performance Group in 2015). This event heralds the remarkable solo show of his work that the SCAD - Savannah College of Art and Design (Atlanta, USA) will present, opening on 17 June of this year.
Joris van de Moortel has created an extremely substantial and controlled body of work in which art and experimental music are treated as indissociable disciplines. At once a painter, self-taught musician, sculptor and performer, van de Moortel continues his exploration of deconstruction as a generative dimension of creation with his exhibition Birds, Robin Hood, Acoustics, “Noise”, Notating, Detail. It is the outcome of a new and cathartic exercise while simultaneously marking a decisive stage in his artistic progress.
The artist has installed an imposing architectural amplifier as an entrance space and prelude to the experience, which urges the visitor to enter a setting in which vestiges of the creative process are left apparent. Between 19.30 and 20.00 on Thursday 12 May, Joris van de Moortel and the group Spectra Ensemble will offer a unique 30-minute performance as a prologue that will be essential to understanding the exhibition.
Occasionally during performances that introduce his exhibitions, Joris van de Moortel produces music (guitar, singing, mixing, drums, etc.) while also destroying his equipment: he may cut through aluminium sheets with a chainsaw, smash glass panels, throw paint over tangles of cables and demolish his musical instruments, which he leaves unplugged among the debris. The resulting debris is left to lie fallow during the exhibition until the artist recuperates it all so that he can use it as the raw materials for his next works of art.
For Birds, Robin Hood, Acoustics, “Noise”, Notating, Detail Joris van de Moortel will offer a remarkable performance in keeping with the show he had at BE PART in November 2015 – the first solo exhibition dedicated to this artist by a Belgian art institution. Taking as its constituent parts notes, rhythms, sounds, sound loops and sound effects, the observation of raw and acoustic noises from everyday life, and following recorded guitar sessions between Joris van de Moortel and Thomas de Prins, a composition with romantic nuances was created. The score, written with a classic arrangement, will be played by Spectra Ensemble accompanied by the twittering of caged canaries, whose chattering will prolong the opening performance for the entire length of the exhibition.
The volumes-works created using the vestiges from previous sound sessions will complement the display of works around the central island on which the band will play. Taken together, the stretchers, formats and assiduous composition are suggestive of painting, the constraints of which Joris van de Moortel splendidly transcends.
Veritable box-objects, these sculptural volumes and low-relief paintings are combined with neon tubes (whose appearance is like a brushstroke of watercolour), oil paint, traces of spray cans and varnish, the destroyed raw materials from past concerts (resonance chambers, steel, glass, aluminium, Plexiglas, fabric, polyurethane, plastic, mirrors, chains, rope), leather and clothes, mouldings in resin and bronze, caged canaries, metal grills like frameworks, insulating foam and silicone, electric cables that bind compound objects together, speakers, amplifiers, videos, sockets, televisions, transformers, microphones, digital prints of film negatives, duratrans, photographs, calotypes and silkscreened reproductions on wallpaper, and the binder and rubble to hold everything together. The volumes and paintings become supreme, mediums imbued with meaning and objects imbued with memories for Joris van de Moortel.
His interpretation of Brandon Labelle’s Background Noise (2006) partially influenced his thinking with regard to this exhibition. He latched onto the notion of “noise”, which he does not consider to be negative: “Noise is often referred to in a negative way, ‘making noise’ is for many not considered the same as making music, well to me it is. [...] Noise is the shape of our environment, architecture, city, street, house, room. Imagine a silenced city, a city like Paris, you would be totally dislocated, disorientated, feeling ‘unreal’, without life, isolated, ‘dead’”. He examined the way birds delineate their territory acoustically through song, an older and more ingenious way than man’s construction of walls and enclosures, a form of definition whose complexity we need to study at a time when private property is being put increasingly under threat. Lastly, Joris van de Moortel has compared the heroic and paradoxical figure of Robin Hood to that of the artist. This popular and legendary dispenser of justice fascinates him, whose bow relates to his birth sign – Sagittarius – tattooed on his right arm. At once “a man of the woods, anarchist, outsider, friend of the poor, enemy of the state, seducer, outlaw, fighter against evil and injustice, stealing from the rich and giving away to the poor, free”, Joris van de Moortel sees the figure of the artist as comparable – or having the capacity to be so – to that of the outlaw Robin Hood, whose studio was Nottingham Forest.
Both total and iconoclastic art, the work of Joris van de Moortel is distributed throughout the space of the gallery so as to absorb us fully into his radical and emotionally stimulating environment.