10.11.- 5.12.99

Jan Fabre (Belgium)
drawing, sculpture

Curators: Marek Gozdziewski, Tijs Visser


Born in Antwerp in 1958, Jan Fabre is a drawer, sculptor, playwright and stage (drama and opera) director, choreographer and stage designer of European renown.

He studied in the Decorative Arts Institute and Royal Academy of Fine Arts. In his early years, he was a decorator, set and costume designer; in 1976-81, active in the field of performance art. At the time he too wrote a series of plays. His intellectual furnishing includes an interest in insects - inherited from a grand-grandfather, a renowned entomologist. Observing the microcosm of insects has become a source of inspiration for Fabre, as was the case with the 'hour of the blue' concept, again, the great-grandpa's (night giving up the space to the daylight). A series of giant drawings has thus been conceived, the material being artificial silk, under the title of Hour of the Blue. Fabre's driving force is intuition, and, instinct. He is much inspired by dreams, too. Thousands of his drawings are meant to compose a sort of a diary.

fabre_vier.gifDrawing is for him the primary field of artistic research, as he himself says, 'the simplest way to make out a magical rug of a[n ordinary] square. Or, to create a heavenly body out of an insect.
In drawing, anything is possible' (interviewed by Jan Hoet). Insects are a propelling force behind Jan Fabre's visual as well as theatrical work. He is fond of drawing - sculpture relationships, a deepened search into drawing being 'drawing sculptures' whereas into sculpture, drawings in which he would use peculiar sculpting techniques. Example being 19 m long and 10 m high drawings such as The flying cock, or, The road from the Earth to the stars is not smooth, or, the 'drawing sculptures': House of flames III, Scissors' house.
fabre_zee.gif'Drawing is for me the way I speak, a language with a directness of enlightened stammering, one approaching the border of pure thinking. It is a form of ecstasy, a swelling sequence of dreams and visions getting enclosed in the act of drawing. There, a new temporal and spatial dimension emerges: the labyrinth of night. As it is with our own astral bodies, also a drawing has its peculiar aura. I am fascinated with a thought that people could not only see my visual art, but also, actually hear it. It is for this reason that I am fascinated, obviously with a voice singing in the midst of fear', Fabre told Jan Hoet.

Since 1980, Jan Fabre has been engaged in theatrical, operatic, and dance performances. Troubleyn, a creative-work association established by Fabre, supports realisations of his projects. In theatre, he has been inspired by his own performance-art experiences which has borne fruit in, among other things, drawing much attention to body expression in acting. For him, the aesthetic, mental and energetic facets of spectacle are of equal import. His theatrical work is distinct with the strength of vivid stage images. Fabre is both the author as well as set and lightning designer for his performances. An important dimension of this work is a celebration of the qualities of time and space, provoking the spectator to somehow 'switch' his or her perception. Fabre's theatre space is closed-off. In dance shows, he has employed his own visual-art concept of 'diffracted space'; there, the space is set in motion while individual moves of dancers get limited. These spectacles picture a tension between ordered universe and chaos.

International renown became for Fabre in 1982 with his 8-hour-long performance entitled This is the theatre one should have awaited and expected. A famous event was also the 1984 show The power of theatrical frenzy staged to open the Biennial in Venice. Fabre made his debut as a choreographer with Dance sections (1987), presented as part of the documenta 8 in Kassel, and meant as initial study toward Fabre's first opera, staged 1990 at the Flemish Opera, Antwerp. The opera, named Glass in the head will be made of glass was an initial part of the operatic trilogy headed The Minds of Helen Troubleyn (music by Polish composer Eugeniusz Knapik). In 1989, at invitation of William Forsyth, Fabre staged three shows featuring the Frankfurt Ballet. Again in Frankfurt, he produced the widely presented ballet performance Sound of one clapping hand. In 1990's, Fabre made the human body a subject-matter of his theatrical trilogy composed of: Sweet temptations, Universal copyrights 1 & 9, and Luminous icons. He also produced a series of chamber plays, written mostly for Els Deceukelier, an outstanding actress. 1997 saw a cycle of dance solos entitled The Four Temperaments, whilst the 1998/99 season was one of two spectacles: a big-sized play The end comes a little bit earlier this century. But business as usual, along with one for two to play - The values of night.

Jan Fabre's stage output is a persistent search for the absolute beauty and spirituality. He describes himself and his dancers as 'the warriors of beauty'. Himself, he dances, as it were, on the high-set borderline between the art and life, driven by that paradoxical concept of his: 'I attempt at creating as little amount of art as is possible'. Fabre is deemed to be a significant personage in the visual arts and theatre of 1990's. His productions have been staged in several countries of Europe, as well as in the USA, Japan, and Australia. He approaches all the artistic fields he cultivates with equal seriousness, while too advocating interdisciplinary art. For many years now, Fabre has been a contributor to the renowned Antwerp 'deSingel' arts centre. His visual works are displayed in significant European museums and galleries.

The Rozdroze'99/Crossroads'99 festival provides Polish spectators with an opportunity to see Jan Fabre's work shown in this country for the first time.

The Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle
Al.Ujazdowskie 6, 00-461 Warsaw, Poland
tel: (48 22) 628 12 71-3, (48 22) 628 76 83 ; fax: (48 22) 628 95 50