Belgian visual artist Hans Op de Beeck creates immersive monochrome environments, where objects exist in a uniform shade of matte grey giving the appearance of cement or wet clay.
Striped of color’s subjective ability to inform perception, composition and spatial relationships are all that remain. Through this sensory deprivation the artist is able to invite viewers to explore the ways in which they shape the their worlds.
Above all, Op de Beeck is keen to stimulate the viewers’ senses, and invite them to really experience the image. He seeks to create a form of visual fiction that delivers a moment of wonder, silence and introspection.
In the artist’s 2016 work The Collector’s House, he created a 2,600-square-foot installation, which as Art Forum writes, contained several life-size sculpted figures in a library alongside a piano, various furniture pieces and a lily pool positioned squarely at the work’s center.
Visitors enter this village through The Collector’s House, 2016, a marvelous monochrome den in which trappings of wealth are reproduced in life-size plaster, calcified in mottled gray tones (save for the glossy black surface of a reflecting pool, dotted with ivory-white water lilies and a stray high heel.) Amid emblems typical of a vanitas—skulls, goblets, stodgily bound books, a stuffed peacock—emerge the less traditional motifs of soda cans, Starbucks cups, half-stubbed cigarettes, and smartphones. Sculpted figures appear as both objects and inhabitants of the interiors; a young girl tangles her fingers in a cat’s cradle of yarn, while a boy cradles blackberries in his palm. Their serenity marks the space as one of contemplation, unhindered by any suspicion of their petrified calm.
Below is a film by the artist. Staging Silence, 2009, is based around abstract, archetypal settings he experienced, the artist’s statement explains.
The presented video images are both ridiculous and serious, much like the eclectic mix of pictures in our minds. The decision to film in black and white emphasises this ambiguity: the amateurish quality of the video evokes the legacy of slapstick as well as the insidious suspense and latent derailment of the film noir. The title refers to the staging of such dormant decors onto which the spectator, in the absence of other figures, can project himself as the lone protagonist.
You can view more of Op de Beeck’s sculptures and installations on his website.