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Michel François
Contre nature

17 March—21 July 2023
Bozar Brussels, Belgium

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A look at 40 years of artistic practice by Belgian artist Michel François, from early work to several new creations he made especially for Bozar. Using sculpture, photography, video, painting and installation, the artist creates a web of shifting connections between his artworks. The exhibition is a unique concept in which the 'total artwork' is central and the exhibition space becomes an extension of his studio.

Michel François is known for shaking up reality, questioning it, and breathing new life into its relationship with art. He transforms seemingly simple objects and materials into bearers of meaning. How can a gesture change the status of an object? What is the influence of the artist's hand? And what is the role of coincidence?

Recurrent preoccupations emerge from the heart of this proliferating, surging work: living material in all its forms (insertion of plant life, representation of mineral features, human gestures, etc.), the ordering of forces (gravity, balance, resistance...) and the metaphor of imprisonment and everything that it induces (breakage, holes, escape ...). François uses an economy of means to transform seemingly uncomplicated objects and materials, or traces of past events, into deeply resonant carriers of meaning. His work can be seen as exploration of cause and effect, and the ways in which simple gestures can change the status of an object or have important consequences. A number of recent sculptural works, without immediately revealing their origins or the way they were made, invite the viewer to consider the degree to which the hand of the artist, or chance, played a role in their formation.

His exhibitions are always considered as “total” works, forming a coherent whole, made up of a myriad of autonomous elements. The specificity of the work of François lies in the extreme diversity of its materials, its forms and its scales, while simultaneously constituting a great stylistic coherence over the past 40 years.


Michel François
Contre nature

texts by François Piron, Eugène Savitzkaya, Ory Dessau & Sylvain Courbois, published by MER., B&L and Bozar Books, 2023, 240 pages, paperback, English

Order — 39€