Jan Fabre: Tribute to Hieronymus Bosch in Congo / Tribute to Belgian Congo
Jan Fabre and Eckhard Schneider
Jan Fabre has created a monumental new cycle of his mosaics for the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev. This publication presents the two grand series—Tribute to Belgian Congo and Tribute to Hieronymus Bosch in Congo, where the artist again grapples artistically with his country’s colonial past. All works from both series impress by their large size, but above all by the use of millions upon millions of jewel beetle wing cases. Utilizing the various colour tones of this iridescent material, Jan Fabre takes us into an indeterminate zone, between Paradise and the Belgian Congo. The first volume Tribute to Belgian Congo presents the artist’s final step in dealing with Belgium’s colonial past, presenting 23 single mosaics and one triptych, elaborating his critical reflections on the history of Belgian Congo. The work is inspired by the enslavement of millions of Congolese and the atrocities committed against them as well as the greed of the colonialists, who stole as much as possible of the natural riches the country had to offer. Fabre depicts the brand logos and products of companies that co-organized the horrors in the name of profit, the whole pride of Belgian industrialists of the late 19th century. The second book, Tribute to Hiëronymus Bosch in Congo, deals with the absurdity and horror of what happened in the country in a more symbolical way, using both the iconography and imagery of paintings by Hiëronymus Bosch. The works give artistic form to evil deeds and stand as an arresting critique of the folly that ensues when men lose their bearings in life. Both volumes are presented by Eckhard Schneider, general director of the PinchukArtCentre and are introduced by a specialist on the subject, with a collection of texts by more than thirty international art professionals.