BEHIND THE GARDEN
Thursday 14.09.17 - Sunday 05.11.17
Botanique, Rue Royale 236, 1210 Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgique
Curation: Simon Njami
For the end of the summer, the Botanique welcomes a personal exhibition by the young Franco-Moroccan artist Mehdi-Georges Lahlou.
Already exhibited in the Museum in the 2014 group show Nass Belgica, this time he storms the entire space with a huge personal project, designed for the Botanique and including new and existing works.
For several years, Mehdi-Georges Lahlou has focused his work on confronting the cultural divisions of his mixed-race heritage, through appropriation and hybridisation. He explores the idea of genre, the influence of religions and traditions with an apparent casualness that sometimes borders on irreverence. His works take as their point of departure his own personal point of view, the limits of beliefs, fantasies and stereotypes. Using his body, the principal medium of his works, he combines symbols and hackneyed clichés and invites the spectator to take part in the confusion of Arabo-Muslim and Judeo-Christian codes that he orchestrates.
Mixing the farcical and the absurd, his works nevertheless bear witness to a profound interrogation of identity, constantly renewing its devices with as much humour as commitment.
On the occasion of his exhibition at the Botanique, Lahlou creates an unusual garden in the space of the Museum. It represents a personal paradise, his own projection of “Jannah”, in which he cultivates the ambiguity so typical of his work. You can wander through busts with their extraordinary headgear - hourglasses full of couscous, fonts of cinnamon - or past intriguing, faceless madonnas. Balancing, fragile or perishable, his works interrogate their own future and their potential erasure. This air of transience accompanies the thoughtful stroll to which the artist invites us. Through a myriad of traditional and liturgical elements, their origins and purposes deliberately blurred, he draws us into the meanders of a wide-ranging reflection, on a sensory and highly-flavoured journey.
Mehdi-Georges Lahlou (born 1983, lives and works in Brussels) graduated from the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Nantes and the S. Joost Academy in Breda.
His work has been shown in many national and international exhibitions. Group exhibition include the Pompidou Centre in Malaga (Hips Don’t Lie, 2016); Villeurbanne Institute of Contemporary Art (Le temps de l’audace et de l’engagement, De leur temps, 2016), the 11th Dakar Biennale (DAK’ART 2014) and the Arab World Institute, Paris (Le corps découvert, 2012). Individual exhibitions include Of the Confused Memory, Galerie Rabouan Moussion, Paris (2017); And Even If Nothing Takes Root in this Oasis, Galerie Transit, Mechelen; I Did Not Have To Cross the Sea, Merton D, Simpson Gallery, New York (2015) and Even the Dust Remains, In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres (2015).
Mehdi-Georges Lahlou is represented in Belgium by the Galerie Transit, Mechelen and in France by the Gallery Rabouan Moussion, Paris.
Simon Njami (1962) is a writer, art critic and exhibition curator.
He has curated numerous exhibitions, including the 12th Dakar Biennale (2016); Something else (Off Biennale Cairo, 2015), Après Eden (Maison Rouge, Paris 2015), and The Divine Comedy, (Smithsonian Institution, Washington 2015 / SCAD Museum, Savannah, 2015 / MMK, Frankfurt am Main, 2014).