Futuristic altarpieces or eccentric spaceships? Clearing presents Bruno Gironcoli at impressive new gallery space in Brussels

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Planning to visit that wonderful Absent Museum exhibition at Wiels some weekend soon? Then do so on a Saturday instead of a Sunday, so you can drop by at their new “neighbour” as well, the newest contestant in the unofficial “who’s having the most impressive gallery space in Brussels” competition. Indeed: after five years Clearing gallery has traded its uptown townhouse for a 19th century warehouse (a former shutter factory) on the Avenue Van Volxemlaan. Their first exhibition, with sculptures by Bruno Gironcoli, (through July 15) was one of ArtReview’s Ten shows to see.

Standing in that huge space, the Clearing quote in an Artnews article almost sounds comical: “Although we cherished the (old) space, it no longer suited our needs. (The new space) opens up a new realm of possibilities and scale for our artists.”
With 600 m2 this must be one of the largest gallery spaces in Brussels. And the first show indeed uses all the possibilities it has to offer, with a collection of huge, wildly eccentric sculptures – or should I say altars looking like space crafts – by Austrian artist Bruno Gironcoli. He started out as a goldsmith, became head of the School of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and represented Austria at the Venice Biennial in 2003. He died in 2010.

Art critic Martin Herbert listed this as one of his Ten shows to see in ArtReview‘s May issue, describing it as follows: “If his art first looked futuristic and later retro-futuristic, when contextualised in a forward-thinking gallery like New York/Brussels space Clearing, it appears outside of time, its idiosyncratic strangeness a testament to explicatory contexts falling away. (Admittedly the artist always fell voluntarily between the cracks, his practice owing something to surrealist-era Giacometti and something else to Pop.) Either way, Gironcoli now looks new and confounding again, and surely he’d approve of that.”

Clearing is the gallery of French ex-visual artist Olivier Babin, who moved to New York and started to show work of other artists in his atelier before opening his own gallery space. He still has that gallery in Brooklyn as well. Says Babin in a short interview with Cultured magazine: “We stand for an absolutely sincere, not cynical, very faithful understanding of art and the responsibility the gallery has to keep things alive. Galleries are usually a place where the goldfish die.” Until July 15, a goldfish of a most peculiar kind.

The exhibition is the first collaboration between the gallery and the Gironcoli estate. More pictures here.


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