Julien Rouvroy

10.April - 09.06. 2010
Opening: Fr.09.April 2010,7pm
„Mask“, oil on canvas, 100cmx75cm, 2007/09

WTC presents the Belgian painter Julien Rouvroy (*1979) with his second solo exhibition “Africa Blue”

In 2006 the artist’s main focus was on the series “Wunderkind” in which children’s perceptions of the unknown in life played a key role. “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown,“ states the American author H. P. Lovecraft. This concept of the fearsome unknown is also a pervasive aspect of the series “Africa Blue”. In his recent works, Julien Rouvroy, raised and educated in Rwanda, examines diverging approaches to our general image of Africa: on the one hand the media with their selective reports on genocide, disease, poverty and currently, of course, football and on the other hand the continuing discussions about culture and art from the “black continent”. In 2002, the Documenta was curated for the first time by the African Okwui Enwezor.

The belief in the power of spirits and demons is an integral part of every day life and culture throughout all African countries, and Rouvroy succeeds in sharply disclosing this situation through his work. In his painting “City Limits”, distant car lights illuminate a figure leaning against a tree that has hyenas eating meat from its mouth. This is not as absurd as it appears, as the motive actually derives from a photograph taken on the outskirts of Nairobi. Sitting in the cars are the onlookers of the horrific spectacle.

In Rouvroy’s paintings voodoo, folk religion and spirits appear as photographical negatives, thus transforming light reality into the dark shades of superstition. In “Knowboy” we see hands which are touching the head of a child – an occult ritual for removing the perceived evil.

But voodoo and various forms of magic are not the only themes treated in the exhibition. Traces of postcolonial dictatorship are to be found in the artist’s animal representations. Rouvroy had set off to Brussels in order to visit the Museum Musee Royal de l’Afrique Central and study its dioramas of the African animal kingdom from the sixties. These showcases prepared by Belgian experts bear all the clichés evolving around the mysterious primitive Africa. For his work, Julien Rouvroy has concentrated on certain dramatic details from these artificially created scenes with the intention of revealing who as an actual fact has been spreading the familiar notion of Africa’s exoticism: the colonial Europe