Museum in Motion - Jos De Gruyter & Harald Thys


M HKA, Antwerp

16 September 2022 - 08 January 2023

Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys

Artists Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys have been collaborating since they first met at Sint-Lucas Art School in Brussels in 1987. Recognising that they had a similar outlook on reality, they quickly bonded and started working together. People and places from Flanders and various nearby regions inspire their videos, drawings, paintings, photographs, books and sculptures, in which we find characters, objects and spaces that seem overly familiar and yet anonymous. Antwerp and the surrounding area have had a particularly significant presence in their work. The A12 motorway axis, for instance, has become one of the artists’ preferred playgrounds. De Gruyter and Thys have the habit of distilling fictions from a reality that is, sometimes, ‘too real’. Both willingly concede that they feel attracted to the psychotic state of contemporary society, a state that they simultaneously dread and reflect in their work. In the over-saturated visual culture of our day, their pared-down aesthetic stands out thanks to its baing normality. Behind a seemingly neutral presence, their work fosters a specific tone that succeeds in transforming that which resembles fear into something critical and contrary to the status quo.

In 2013, M HKA organised Optimundus, the first major survey exhibition dedicated to the artists’ practice. The duo was awarded the Special Mention Award when representing Belgium at the Venice Biennale in 2019 with a project entitled MONDO CANE. M HKA’s collection includes many works by the artists, including both early and recent videos, drawings and puppets from the MONDO CANE series.

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