Kasper Bosmans: Husbandry
Wiels: Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels
February 25 – August 14, 2022
Kasper Bosmans is a storyteller. Fascinated by tales that resonate across time, he unpicks their threads and playfully weaves them into new stories. Always starting from specific examples – whether an obscure anecdote, artisanal recipe, or current news item -Bosmans employs local, vernacular traditions to speak about global questions.
Mixing references from different periods and cultures as a way to tease out their similarities, he highlights our commonality at a time of increasing polarization. His works take the form of bold murals, installations, sculptures, and his signature Legends. These small painted wooden panels fuse formal traditions such as heraldic shields or illuminated manuscripts with iconography culled from children’s books or digital logos. Avoiding didactic explanation, the Legends offer enigmatic clues to Bosmans’ thought process, while existing as artworks in their own right.
Bosmans is intrigued by the possibilities offered by diverse techniques and materials and the exhibition contains several new productions, in bronze, enamel, glass, and sand that he has made together with specialist artisans. This ambitious and playful exhibition reveals the scope and humor of Bosmans’ original practice.
The exhibition adopts the title Husbandry, a term used to designate care and cultivation, the rearing of animals, or the growing of crops. At the intersection of nature and culture, husbandry is also the good stewardship of a household, and Bosmans’ references are often domestic. He is particularly interested in history “as seen from the kitchen.” Here he presents a new series of enamel panels that are abstract portraits of friends whom he asked to count the number of holes in their colanders, taking the colander as a metaphor for sorting and separating.
Bosmans has previously created sand paintings, appropriating the Belgian folk tradition of making decorative patterns with colored sand in or around the house (particularly celebrated in his hometown of Lommel). His new Sand Painting, made for this exhibition, depicts a spider’s web scattered with jewels.
Animals feature prominently in the works included here, always in relation to their cataloging or control by mankind. Bird Nose Count takes as its starting point the work of the Dutch 17th-century painter Melchior d’Hondecoeter. His depictions of nature were influenced by the ‘discovery’ of new species during colonial expansion and brought together collections of birds that could not possibly co-exist in reality. Bosmans’ large enamel wall piece reproduces to scale the eggs of all the birds depicted by d’Hondecoeter.
Another new work is Wolf Corridor, taking its name from the narrow strips of “wilderness” left between urban developments, designed not for the recreation or entertainment of people so that wolves might again roam the Lowlands. This glass frieze featuring the repeated figure of a running wolf is interrupted by bronze scissors, cutting the corridor.
Running like a pink thread through the exhibition are references to queer culture. This takes various forms, the suggestively titled Boy Butter, which refers to family stories of butter smuggling while also hinting at sexual activity. Kasper Bosmans was included in the group exhibition Un-Scene III at WIELS in 2015 and was a WIELS artist in residence in 2016. Curator: Zoë Gray