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Tunnel

Tunnel, 1994

Koen Theys
  • Artist (1963)

In his early activities, Koen Theys focused on the making of video films (Crime 01, 1983; Sleepless Night, 1983; Chant de mon pays, 1984-89), before turning to photography, collage and sculpture. The connections that he has managed to establish between these fields are numerous. Whatever the medium involved, Koen Theys develops an extremely painstaking editing work of images either made by him or already existing, which he takes months and in some cases years to collect. In his early works, Perspective (1988), Passage (1989) and Balcon (1989), what is at issue above all is décor. Subsequently, the door and the window would remain as a recurrent theme in his production:  Window Behind Glass, 1990; Both Sides of My Door, 1990. In 1995, adopting an ironic look at the urban landscape, he presented a piece in which an accumulation of photographic fragments of people took on the formal appearance of a Castle. This effect of a huge crowd, worked in such a way as to be adapted to the perspective of a space, had already been developed in 1991 in the series Compositions with Crowd. The architectured and “boxed” crowd sketched a dizzy-making space where the individual disappeared and became a mere motif. Nowadays, his photographic montages, produced with the help of digital technologies, still explore the idea of proliferation (The Academy, 2001; What’s the Point?, 2007). Theys’ work is permeated by more or less explicit references to works, artists and theories in art history (Duchamp, Kosuth, Guy Debord, the painting of still lifes—of the vanitas variety—in the 17th century…). Through the comparison which he creates (theoretical texts, images gleaned from the Internet), he seeks to update “conflicts which run through today’s art and culture”. In his works, the absurd often rubs shoulders with the still life, threatening it and verging on the poetic (Last Man Walking, 2007; The Vanitas Record, 2005; The Dynamite Show, 2004).

 Koen Theys lives and works in Brussels, where he was born. He has exhibited in many galleries, and taken part in several group shows such as Confrontatie-Confrontaties at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent, in 1988, Transito in 1999 at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and in Madrid with the show Ceci n’est pas une pomme, Carlos de Amberes Foundation. He won the First Prize at the Film Festival for young filmmakers in Brussels in 1985, the Prix Arcanal at the 3rd Festival of Video and Television at Montbéliard in 1986, the Statesprize for Plastic Arts in 1987, and the Jury Prize at the Videologia Festival at Volvograd in Russia in 2006.

Nadine Labedade