Conrad has been invited by Biennale Interieur Kortrijk to make a new work as one of their Landmark pieces. The result, Construction V, will premier at the Biennale. It is a new addition to the Construction series, made from 812 orange granite building blocks accompanied by a construction drawing on paper.
As part of the Landmarks, Conrad will also be showing Construction II, III and IV. On top of that, stone company Van Den Weghe will be showing Construction I in their booth. This is the first time all Constructions will be shown in one exhibition.
Biennale Interieur Kortrijk 2018: from 18 to 22 October in Kortrijk Xpo.
25 May from 12-22h
26 & 27 May from 12-18h
Modular Sculptures is a solo exhibition of sculptural work by Conrad Willems dealing with modularity. The works consist of components that can be separated and recombined, built up and broken down - exploring building materials and the language of construction.
From 28/05 until 15/07
by appointment, please call +32 475 64 95 81
At the beginning of April I was invited to show 2 pieces at the Miart Milano Art Fair for the 4th Itenerance presentation.
For four days, Construction IV and Composition II were on show and have received many enthusiast art lovers from Italy and abroad, including mister Giorgio Armani himself. Three articles reviewed and mentioned my pieces: Wallpaper magazine (calling me a rising Belgian star), Elle Decoration Italy (calling me un vero talento) and Esquire Magazine.
The Ghent based architects Marge and myself have been selected for Open Sites - Tracks 2018.
Our team will build an installation on the site of the old Ypres fortress walls for a week in September.
Construction is due from 3 to 8 September.
More news will follow later!
On the 17th of December, my studio is open to all visitors as a way to celebrate the great things 2017 has brought and to look ahead for the next year!
A behind-the-scenes look at the studio, with new works and great projects I’d love to show and talk about. Feel free to drop by, look around and have a coffee.
Please give me a call or send me a text when you're at the front door – as there is no doorbell! 0485/78.44.39
17th December - 11 a.m / 7 p.m
Coupure Rechts 308, 9000 Gent
This Friday 8th of December I'll be performing 'Cubicles V' at observatorium Antwerp. This new art space is part of the new Meatpack site. Its first show will gather some 30 Belgian and international artists and is curated in collaboration with private and public collections, with galleries and artists.
Cubicles is a performative work consisting of large-scale building blocks, used to make a temporary modular artwork. There are certain rules to be followed, like not using any attributes to mount the blocks or affixing them. Each new performance comes with the addition of new building blocks.
I'll be starting at 7 pm and will stop when physically depleted.
Come and cheer me on!
I have been invited to show 'Variation III' and Composition I (1/5) at the 'Tussen Muren' Exhibition in Tielt/ Belgium. This exhibition focuses on how artists organize and experience their personal surroundings in comparison to our social, architectural and ecological environment in general.
"The exhibition explores the boundaries between architecture and art through works by John Van Oers, Caroline Van Den Eynden, Conrad Willems, Guy Cleuren, Deprez Koen, Sarah van Marcke, Julie Pfleiderer, Miriam Rohde, Sarah Westphal, Katleen Vinck, Johan Laethem, Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, Karl Philips and Olivier Goethals."
Open until the 27th of January.
The group exhibition “Visionary History” opened in Leuven at the Faculty of law and is on view from 20 October until the 30th January 2018
The exhibition showcases various ways to explore time: between origin and destiny, parallel worlds, mysticism and imagination, to illustrate the relativity of linear time.
I am showing Construction III in silver Travertine, a recent work which asks it's own questions about timelessness through material use and prototypical building shapes.
Participating artists: Davide Bertocchi, Louis De Cordier, Bram Demunter, Joachim Devillé, Lise Duclaux, Elise Eeraerts, Willem Oorebeek, G. Küng, Helmut Stallaerts, Luc Vandervelde and Conrad Willems
Arc is a residency for research and dialogue. It facilitates exchange and collaboration in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Artists and experts from different backgrounds are invited to appropriate the place over time, to critically reflect upon their practice, experiment and take their work forward, through shared activities and encounters.
During my stay at Arc, from 2 till 20 Oktober I will be exploring in what way our play as children influences our professional (art) careers and I plan on creating a new modular art work based on this research.
Our society limits play to the realm of the child, but do we really know the impact of play? How does play result in differences in architecture, construction and in the urban landscape?
For more information: ARC / artist residency
Curator Anni Fahler and artist Timo Wright are launching ARS – Artist Residency Swap, a new artist exchange pilot programme in the Benelux. The idea behind the programme is a platform where artists can swap both their work space and home with another artist from a different country. The goal is to create a space where artists all over the world can connect through their profile in order to not only share their work and living space, but also experiences and insights.
The activity between Finland and the Benelux begins with a pilot exchange programme partly funded by the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, and involves two artists from both areas swapping their homes and work spaces. The open-call closed in July, and the participating artists, who will swap homes and work spaces in the end of September, have now been chosen:
Billie Hanne (Brussels/Belgium) and Anna Knappe (Helsinki/Finland)
Conrad Willems (Ghent/ Belgium) and Sivi Valima (Helsinki/Finland)
ARS – Artist Residency Swap is a side project by the Finnish gallery Unknown Cargo. The gallery was created in 2011, and began expanding its activities to the Nordic countries in 2015. The name of each artist is revealed only after their exhibition, letting the artist create freely and without expectations.
At the beginning of March, I received an email that I was selected as one of 4 sculptors as candidates for the Godecharle prize.
Organised for the first time in 1881 by Napoléon Godecharle in honour of his late father, renowned sculptor Gilles-Lambert Godecharle, the prize aims to promote the education of young Belgian artists - sculptors, painters and architects. Over the last 128 years, many famous painters, sculptors and architects have accepted to be members of the prize jury. Amongst them Emile Claus, Paul Delvaux, Fernand Knopff, Constant Permeke, Jean Brusselmans and Pierre Alechinsky. Some of the winners of the prize became very successful afterwards, further increasing the prestige of the award. These include Victor Horta, Egide Rombaux, Victor Rousseau and Guillaume Van Strydonck.
To take part in the contest proceedings, I was invited on Wednesday 22th of March to a remote farm near Wavre. Together with the other selected candidates (4 for each discipline - sculpting, painting, architecture) we received an overarching theme. The theme for the whole group this year was Palimpsest. We had until Sunday 26th to present a finished work in line with this theme.
Without knowing the theme in advance, we had been asked to bring whatever we needed to produce a work. I had loaned my father's pick-up truck and brought with me 500 bricks, two pieces of paper, ink and a couple of thin brushes.
The following days we each worked hard and got to know each other over copious meals and late-night discussions. It was very interesting to see how my collegues tackled the theme and how we used each other to streamline our thoughts and ideas.
I started out with the bricks I brought and decided to embed one in the soil of the farm. From thereon things evolved through numerous in-situ installations rather than through theorizing. Over the following days, the installations became less and less about the bricks and more about the incisions they left in the soil - the rewriting of a place, a site, a landscape.
I wrote down the decision and installations I made throughout the days and also combined this in a drawing. On Sunday, instead of handing over a sculpture, I handed in the drawing and 1 signed brick. The final work was a site-specific installation with wooden beams and incisions in the grass, but the evolution to get to this work is just as important here. A couple of weeks later, I had to defend the site-specific installations I made for a jury. Shortly after this, we knew who won the prize in each category, this was followed by the opening of the Godecharle group exhibition in the Academy of fine Arts in Brussels.
After almost a year of planning and production, I received the finalized stone blocks for Construction III in my atelier.
This third installment of the Construction series consists of 540 Travertine Silver blocks and a framed hand-drawn construction drawing. The blocks have been cut and sanded into 10 different basic shapes, based on children's wooden toy blocks. These are built into the construction from the drawing on black paper. The blocks are not affixed in any way, but placed on top of each other in a specific building order.
The Travertine has an enormous variety in color en texture, which gives this work incredible depth. This is also the first work in the Construction series that is completely self-supporting, without an internal load-bearing structure.
A professional photoshoot has been planned but I'm already proud to show a couple of teaser close-ups I took myself.
A sign has been put down at the Gerald the Devil castle - an important historical building from the 13th century in the centre of Ghent - announcing that certain historical elements would be demolished. Stones were seen lying on the inner courtyard.
The Gothic building, one of the first stone houses in Ghent and former State Archives, has seen numerous renovations since the Middle Ages. Today it has become difficult to even recognize its original structure. Precisely these renovations were beiing "revoked" according to the announcement, removing the "Disneyfied" non-original elements to reveal the core of the original structure.
Passers-by and tourists needn't to worry. The announcement looked very similar to a building permit announcement, but was actually part of my latest art project. The stones thrown down from the rooftop were not coming from castle's structure.
Criticism on urban planning
The symbolic demolition was the result of an investigation I've done regarding the history of the Devil's castle. It has seen many forms and functions but also has been made more attractive for tourists to look at over the years. This is exemplary for a wider Disneyfication of the historical city of Ghent. There is for example an ever-ongoing "restoration" of the Counts Castle (after 20 years of restoration it is more fiction than fact), ubiquitous facade architecture where the actual buildings are being demolished but the facades are left alone, and the ongoing redevelopment of the city as an open-air pedestrian shopping mall.
1.6 tons of bricks
Between 16/01 and 15/02 I carried 1000 bricks (1.6 tonnes) to the roof and threw them down in the - private and enclosed - courtyard. Every week I'd put up a new announcement board, each with a new reason for the symbolic demolition, threatening to remove the embattlements, rebuild the Castle in a contemporary style, or to convert it into an artist's asylum.
This action aimed to dispers disinformation, which today has become increasingly difficult to distinguish from actual information. The pile of stones in the garden formed a temporary sculpture. The one-month performance was titled "Deconstruction I".
In July 2017 an exhibition about this and 5 other performances at the castle will take place in it's medieval basements.
More information on the project and its organisation: Yart
I've started on a new series in concrete, using the same wooden building blocks I use for the Construction series as a basis. Not for constructions this time, but for compositions.
When I got my first building blocks, I was just a very young child. The blocks were transported in a wooden crate on wheels, with a lid that slid off.
When the lid came off, the blocks formed a neat surface of perfectly arranged blocks. To me, this was a magical moment of possibility, I could make anything I wanted. Starting from a neat and almost 2D surface, 3D objects emerged. And then later, when playtime was over, the blocks needed to be fitted back into their container, always in a new order, as long as they fitted.
This moment, this joy and sense of possibility and new beginnings, of playtime, is what I started from. The compositions of wooden building blocks were translated into fixed concrete casts, scale 1:1. Once framed, their surface almost becomes 2D, but it is actually a bas relief.
This fist cast will be executed five times, in five different colors of integrally colored concrete. I'm already working on the second cast, which has the same scale but uses three times more blocks.
Looking for new ways to build. Once the weather improves I'll be attempting large scale outdoor structures!
The STAM Ghent city museum invited me as one of 4 artist to come and make a mural with tape. Visitors could get some tape and give it a try on a separate wall. My wall piece ended up 6 meters long and connected to the work of the other artists, for a total of 24 meters of mural!
Check the pictures for the process and the end result above.
(pictures by Michiel De Vyver & Phile Deprez)
I'm very excited to announce we have started the production on Construction III, the latest installment to the Construction Series.
Following the Construction Series' rules, number III consists of an original architectural structure and a technical drawing, and will be executed in it's unique stone. We've chosen the gorgeous Travertine Silver, an Italian natural stone used since the beginning of architecture as a building material. It comes in a range of colors ranging from white to red, always marked by sedimentary lines and pitted holed on the surface. Ours will be the color Silver, a richly shaded warm grey.
For the first time, the construction will be 100% load bearing. Construction I and II had an internal volume in plywood to reduce cost and weight. Construction III will be built fully in stone cubes in a vaulted construction, a technique comparable to a roman arch bridge. Two openings in the sides of the construction and an oculus in the roof will provide a view into the structure's internal architecture.
The finished construction - consisting of 540 pieces - will measure 1m20 in height, but will be presented on a higher made-to-measure plinth.
The Dhondt-Dhaenens museum celebrated its tenth annual garden party. Each year, they organize a charity auction to fund their own operation. This year, Christie's was responsible for the auction of a large number of works of art, donated by artists, galleries and collectors. Besides a number of established artists, there was also a selection of 30 young artist, who were nominated by art world insiders.
I was nominated by Monia Warnez, a Belgian "young collector" and co-owner of the Fotorama fine art prints studio.
For the young artists auction, I donated "Study No.10, drawing included".
This was the first time I presented one of the clay studies as a work. I'd included an original drawing, meant to be presented together.
The party and auction were an incredible succes, fetching over 200.000 euros for the museum's operation.
"Study No.10" performed very well, with bidding ending up 50% higher than its estimate.