Michaël Borremans: Coloured Cones

Exhibition Review at Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp (BE)

Left image: Marcel Broodthaers, Armoire blanche et table blanche, 1965. Painted furniture with eggshells - 86 x 82 x 62 cm & 104 x 100 x 40 cm. Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. / Right image: Michaël Borremans, The Egg IV, 2012. Oil on canvas - 42 x 36 cm. Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery.

Michaël Borremans, Coloured Cones, 2019. Oil on canvas – 88 x 120 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



The object as subject


Cones covered by satin fabrics are the main protagonists in Borremans' latest series of paintings. This series resulted in the eponymous solo show Coloured Cones at Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp. It was the seventh solo show by Michaël Borremans in the prestigious gallery in the city of Rubens, presenting eighteen paintings made in the past two years.


And so it seems, the works of the charismatic Belgian painter continue to evolve in a manner characteristic for his enigmatic oeuvre. Unpredictable, subtle, a good portion of humor, ambiguous, a touch of melancholy and as always, breathtaking.


The concept of the coloured cones came about, as often with Borremans, by accident. The process of serendipity that led to this series of work started with samples of fabric to make costumes for a different series of work – a series in which the artist asked his models to make a costume to pose a specific subject, for instance, a rocket or a naked human (two works of this series are in fact included in the show Coloured Cones). The fabrics were displayed on top of cones to simulate the shape or form of a human figure. Borremans was intrigued by the strange and peculiar presentation of these objects and thus decided to paint them.


A film still of the preview video for the exhibition Coloured Cones (2020). A film by Griet Teck. Courtesy Zeno X Galley, Antwerp.


Diego Velazquez, (detail) Portrait of Innocent X, ca. 1650. Oil on canvas – 141 x 119 cm. Collection Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome.


He installs and constellates the cones in different settings, as if the cones are no longer object, but subjects. Some of the cones even have names, such as Dodgy Bob but also The Pope [see paintings below]. The latter illustrates how the fabrics, even more, the representation of fabrics are the foundation in this series for the ongoing dialogue of Michaël Borremans with art history. The satin colour of the cone is a direct reference – as is the title – to the portrait of Innocentius X by Diego Velazquez (b. 1599-1660), Borremans' baroque painting teacher [see image above].


This brings us to one of the most striking visual aspects of these small scale paintings, the colour. The amount of pigment in the colour seems to be as surreal as his images. The virtuoso brushstrokes emphasize to immaculate quality of oil paint and our everlasting adoration for the medium.


In the second chamber of the gallery, the cones are juxtaposed to some characteristic portraits. The monumental painting Large Rocket fills the entire room, resonating with the shape and fabrics of the cones [see image below]. Borremans consciously encompasses portraiture and still life, as if we are hovering as a species in between. A mockery of our existence and how we lose touch with our nature, a characteristic aspect the current Zeitgeist and the painter's impending investigation of the human condition.


Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.



A Badger's Song

Simultaneously with Coloured Cones, Zeno X Books, Hannibal and Franz König Books release the latest monographic publication on the works of Michaël Borremans. The catalogue offers an overview of painted series since 2013 up to now, including his Black Mould series, Fire from the Sun and the Coloured Cones.



Find out the current price and a copy here.









Paintings and installation views

Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.



Michaël Borremans, Lilac Cone, 2020. Oil on canvas – 36 x 30 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Lilac, Beige and Ginger Cone, 2020. Oil on canvas – 71 x 83 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Dodgy Bob, 2020. Oil on canvas – 60.2 x 44 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.



Michaël Borremans, The Pope, 2020. Oil on canvas – 60.2 x 40.2 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Pink and Purple, 2020. Oil on canvas – 37 x 47 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Left image: Marcel Broodthaers, Armoire blanche et table blanche, 1965. Painted furniture with eggshells - 86 x 82 x 62 cm & 104 x 100 x 40 cm. Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. / Right image: Michaël Borremans, The Egg IV, 2012. Oil on canvas - 42 x 36 cm. Courtesy of Zeno X Gallery.

Michaël Borremans, Coloured Cones, 2019. Oil on canvas – 88 x 120 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Pink Cone, Green Cone, 2020. Oil on canvas – 42 x 53 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.



Michaël Borremans, Five Cones, 2020. Oil on wooden panel – 21 x 29.3 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Red Cone, Blue Cone, Brown Cone, 2020. Oil on wooden panel – 21 x 26.7 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Three Cones, 2020. Oil on wooden panel – 22 x 29.1 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, The Pilot, 2020. Oil on canvas – 50.2 x 42.2 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.



Michaël Borremans, Large Rocket, 2019. Oil on canvas – 300 x 190 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Little Missile, 2019. Oil on wooden panel – 18.8 x 14.9 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Merry Missile, 2020. Oil on wooden panel – 21.5 x 14.8 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.




Michaël Borremans, What else could they do?, 2019. Oil on canvas – 120 x 88 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Girls on the Dancefloor, 2019. Oil on wooden panel – 22.2 x 29.6 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Black Cone, 2020. Oil on wooden panel – 30.9 x 21.4 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Michaël Borremans, Conehead, 2020. Oil on canvas – 36 x 30 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.



Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.





Published online by Contemporary Art Issue

© 2020



List of illustrations:

Michaël Borremans, Coloured Cones, 2019. Oil on canvas – 88 x 120 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery.

A film still of the preview video for the exhibition Coloured Cones (2020). A film by Griet Teck. Courtesy Zeno X Galley, Antwerp. Diego Velazquez, (detail) Portrait of Innocent X, ca. 1650. Oil on canvas – 141 x 119 cm. Collection Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome.

Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.

Michaël Borremans, Lilac Cone, 2020. Oil on canvas – 36 x 30 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.

Michaël Borremans, Lilac Cone, 2020. Oil on canvas – 36 x 30 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Lilac, Beige and Ginger Cone, 2020. Oil on canvas – 71 x 83 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Dodgy Bob, 2020. Oil on canvas – 60.2 x 44 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.

Michaël Borremans, The Pope, 2020. Oil on canvas – 60.2 x 40.2 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Pink and Purple, 2020. Oil on canvas – 37 x 47 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Coloured Cones, 2019. Oil on canvas – 88 x 120 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Pink Cone, Green Cone, 2020. Oil on canvas – 42 x 53 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.

Michaël Borremans, Five Cones, 2020. Oil on wooden panel – 21 x 29.3 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Red Cone, Blue Cone, Brown Cone, 2020. Oil on wooden panel – 21 x 26.7 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Three Cones, 2020. Oil on wooden panel – 22 x 29.1 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, The Pilot, 2020. Oil on canvas – 50.2 x 42.2 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.

Michaël Borremans, Large Rocket, 2019. Oil on canvas – 300 x 190 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Little Missile, 2019. Oil on wooden panel – 18.8 x 14.9 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Merry Missile, 2020. Oil on wooden panel – 21.5 x 14.8 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, What else could they do?, 2019. Oil on canvas – 120 x 88 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Girls on the Dancefloor, 2019. Oil on wooden panel – 22.2 x 29.6 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Black Cone, 2020. Oil on wooden panel – 30.9 x 21.4 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Michaël Borremans, Conehead, 2020. Oil on canvas – 36 x 30 cm. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp.

Installation view. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery. Photo: Peter Cox.