← Back

Matthieu Ronsse, Installation view, Bonner Kunstverein, 2010. Photo: Achim Kukulies

Matthieu Ronsse: The Spirit Moves Me

The Bonner Kunstverein is glad to announce The Spirit Moves Me, Matthieu Ronsse’s first institutional single exhibition outside of Belgium, curated by Stephan Strsembski. A catalogue will be published.

In a very short time, painter Matthieu Ronsse, born 1981 in Kortrijk, has attracted the attention of the whole Belgian art scene. Two very different aspects of Ronsse’s art account for his success at most.

One is the baffling quality of his painting: Ronsse’s almost disparate iconography entails interiors, everyday still lifes, snap-shots of hardcore concerts, pin-up girls and recurrent adaptations of art history: Da Vinci, Watteau, Goya, Manet, Fragonard and repeatedly, downright excessively, Velázquez; but also younger masters such as Dan Flavin and Joseph Kosuth. Ronsse translates these antetypes with a technical finesse only achieved by very few these days. The chiaroscuro, the delicate drawing and the subtle glaze of his paintings show him to be both technically brilliant and a real “fan” of his historic role models.

In the face of these stupendous formal ingredients one can easily forget the elaborate and unfashionable narrative in which Ronsse embeds the aforementioned works. And yet it is necessary to observe that Ronsse’s exhibitions consist of installations, performances and interventions that are more than an accompanying framework for his painted works. Ronsse typically brings (often huge) architectural structures from the studio to the exhibition space (ASYL, 2007) and fills it with everyday objects like a refrigerator, a basketball and a rifle. These elements noticeably shift the concept of his exhibitions away from merely looking at autonomous images to a more open form. They contain theatrical elements and leave space for often bizarre encounters that are informed by, if nothing else, the surreal spirit of Magritte or Broodthaers. Édouard Manet’s “Une botte d’asperges” as a charcoal drawing on a greasy pizza box (the motif was already part of a gallery exhibit in Cologne suggesting that during the making Hans Haacke was looking over Manet’s shoulder as well), painted frames, image-spaces around referenced paintings and, most recently, abstract large formats in the spirit of tachism. All of this helps dissolve the coherence of the figurative panels, chucking them into the daily grind.

The performative momentum is not confined to props and relics. Ronsse himself takes part in musical performance projects or invites bands for that purpose. Three groups are actually rocking the Kunstverein Bonn on the exhibition’s opening night: Faceneck and Spleen (both featuring Matthieu Ronsse) as well as the Belgian project Possessed Factory. After the opening night concert, the instruments remain in the exhibition space; they prolong the moment of the performance and help sustain the energy of that extraordinary point in time throughout the exhibition (and as well work as real props for the accompanying program for kids and young adults).