A mental journey to the Middle East
Pedrami Gallery, Antwerp
In times of massive movement of refugees from the East to the West, the Belgian artist Koen Broucke asks himself how to travel from the West to the East. It’s a mental journey to the most unwanted places on earth: destroyed and suffering cities as Palmyra, Aleppo, Homs, Damascus, Bagdad. Places where you can only go via mental sideways, satellite images, stories told by refugees, symbolic objects, old postcards and artworks. As a counterpoint to his reading of the military accounts, he started reading Sufi poetry.
This is a part of his PhD in arts, a research into battlefields and conflict zones by drawing.
Broucke transposes the concept of the historical sensation (John Huizinga, 1920) into an actual meaning: how an image, a story or an object can bring you in a sudden contact with a place or a time that’s otherwise inaccessible. He is deeply convinced that the actual problems can only be resolved by a deep and sincere interest in each others values and cultures.
He refers to a series he created in the eighties of the previous century inspired by the book of the ‘Marvels of the World’ of Marco Polo.
Koen Broucke (Belgium, 1965) is an extremely versatile artist. Koen Broucke knows how to give shape to his unique universe through image, text and music and the result is incredibly fascinating. Alternating between reality and imagination, historical facts and fantasy, a self-written scenario in which historical figures and fictional characters is brought to life in his work. With his drawings, paintings and performances Koen Broucke has developed a magnificent but also a very distinctive personal style. Guaranteeing him a very special place in the landscape of contemporary Belgian art.