the new genius,
curator : Pierre Muylle
The gallery loaned artworks by Harald Stoffers, Leopold Strobl, Dan Miller and Dominique Théate on the occasion of de Het nieuwe geniaal at the Cultuurcentrum Mechelen (Belgium).
On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, Studio Borgerstein invites curator Pierre Muylle. In this exhibition, the language of artistry is celebrated and we see objects that are fundamentally different, yet communicate with each other.
If we understand thinking only as a cerebral activity, “that thinking” is often excluded for artists with intellectual disabilities. But thinking does not happen only through the brain. The hands can also think, even the imagination is a form of thinking. And that is precisely where many artists with intellectual disabilities excel. This is where we meet contemporary artists who, with open mouths, step into the genius of inventions and the inventive naturalness of the imagination. This is the thread that runs through this exhibition.
Around a central installation, the exhibition develops through the adjacent rooms. Each room brings together works that belong to the same blood group, feeding a similar world of imagination.
More than twenty years ago, Harald Stoffers began a fictional correspondence with his mother, in which all the letters started with «Liebe Mutti». He began this exercise at a workshop for people with disabilities at which he worked. He started by distributing them amongst his fellow workers in the form of small torn notes. Stoffers’ letters later thickened, some even reaching ten meters long. Presented in a film by Youssef Tabti at the Grand Palais in 2009, his work was included in such prestigious institutions as the Mona (Australia), the Hamburger Kunsthalle (Berlin), the Oliva Creative Factory (Portugal), the Dox Art Center (Prague) and the Maison rouge (Paris).
A significant number of his works was donated to the Centre Pompidou collection in 2021.
In his eighteens, while he got ready to start studying fine arts, a coma after a serious motorcycle accident changed the promising life of this young artist. The impossibility of recovery condemned Dominique Théte to fantasize about his life. This is why almost all his drawings are followed by a “Shema (sic) representing me…” where he stages different aspects of his fantasy life, whereas in the afternoon suit he would wear during his marriage, in a comedian loved by his audience, in a star singer, or in the reproduction of the numerous cars he dreams of. As Anne-Françoise Rouche implied: “Because he was stolen from his construction of common person, he is going to draw and to write that of[…]
Having become, in a decade, one of the most recognized contemporary brut artists, this autistic native of California is sometimes compared to Cy Twombly: while the latter deconstructs language, the former builds it. Since 2010, the gallery has contributed to its international recognition by organizing several exhibitions and publishing the only monograph available to date, enriched with an essay by Richard Leemann. Present in countless public and private collections - including those of the MoMA and Pompidou –, Dan Miller’s work was also part of the official selection of the 2017 Venice Biennale.
Attending the Gugging workshop (Austria) for the past ten years, he finds in creation a comfort and redemption, a way to keep his mental demons at bay. His small-format colored pencil drawings, crafted on landscape photographs found in newspapers, are similar to magnetic portals. Graphite contaminates the scenery as if to reveal its strangeness. Present in the collections of the MoMa (New York) since 2018, his work was presented the following year in the exhibition Photo Brut at the Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles.